Not only will The Montauk Movie reopen on May17 with “Star Trek,” a national release, but the theater will offer spin classes starting in June—at least that’s the plan, according to David Rutkowski, whose family owns the theater.
Cinema Cycle is expected to roll into the space with spin classes in the morning and late afternoon before the movies roll at 7 and 9 p.m. Some rows of seats will be removed to make way for 25 bikes, and Mr. Rutkowski and his wife, Maureen, have several ideas afloat—at the least, “basic TV programming, watch your episode of whatever’s on HBO,” videos of the Tour de France—for exercisers to view on the big screen while burning off calories.
“You can get a large buttered popcorn and a large Coke,” Mr. Rutkowski joked. But seriously:
Throughout the winter, the movie’s marquee advertised that the space was for rent, and Montauk’s cinematic venue was in danger of not reopening for the season at all. The reason was that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to book movies on 35-millimeter film, as movie-makers have moved to a digital format.
With a short season and the space to show only one film at a time, the theater’s owners could not justify upgrading their projection equipment at a cost of upward of $80,000. Originally, Mr. Rutkowski said, he thought they were going to stop making movies on film altogether in December. He can still get them, he learned, though because of the theater’s size he’s not high on the getting-them list.
“The booker said, ‘I think you should not open,’” Mr. Rutkowski said, “’You may have weeks where I have no content for you.’”
“If I have a movie in there for four weeks I’m going to get lynched,” the theater owner pointed out.
While the space was up for rent, there were notions about using the space as a night club, an art gallery, an alternative movie theater or some sort of exercise studio. A spin space seemed to generate the most excitement, which “got me interested in a roundabout way,” Mr. Rutkowski said.
“The majority of our classes will be just like you go to SoulCycle or Flywheel and there’s an instructor and he’s like, ‘Pick up the pace,’” Mr. Rutkowski said. His wife, a coach like himself, knows people who teach spin, and they’re looking for instructors now.
The theater has been in his family for over 30 years, and Mr. Rutkowski said the idea that it might not be profitable as a cinema made him sad.
The hope is that the hybrid venture can change that. “We’re very, very, very excited about it,” he said.