Basie Center Cinemas Movie Theater Now Serving Alcohol

Having a cocktail at the movies just became legit at a historic movie theater in Red Bank.

Basie Center Cinemas, the historic, independent twin cinema on White Street, operated by the nonprofit Count Basie Center, has announced the start of alcoholic beverage service to patrons 21 and over.

“Basie Center Cinemas is now the only area indie movie house that can offer patrons a glass of wine, a local craft beer or a cool, canned cocktail to accompany their feature presentation,” said Izzy Sackowitz, chief operating officer of the Count Basie Center organization. 

To the largest extent possible, Sackowitz added, the cinema will feature products from hyperlocal purveyors, including area craft breweries and wineries.     

The cinema is permitted to serve alcohol following the signing of a 2023 law allowing licenses for nonprofit movie theaters dedicated to promoting the performing arts. In addition to showcasing the latest in Hollywood fare, Basie Center Cinemas is also home to open mic comedy nights, film festivals, the region’s longest-running late-night interactive screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Improv Jam, a monthly night of off-the-cuff live comedy. Basie Center Cinemas is also available to rent for birthday parties, corporate gatherings or other private events.

Count Basie Center officials have long regarded a liquor license as a lifeline for the historic movie theater, which has shown films since at least the 1950s.

Like most cinema operations, Basie Center Cinemas has struggled in the post-COVID era. But now, Basie Center Cinemas is in a position to offer more to its audiences — like comedy and other types of performances. 

“We’ll be announcing a Hispanic heritage film festival in coming weeks, along with other events to bring new patrons into the cinema,” Sackowitz added. “This is indeed a lifeline for us, and we intend to do all we can to activate this historic space.”   


Wednesday, May 8: Half-Priced Wednesdays with reduced admission to Fall Guy (Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt; rated PG-13; 7:15 p.m.) and Challengers (Zendaya, Josh O’Connor; rated R; 7:15 p.m.)

Thursday, May 9Challengers (4 p.m.), The Fall Guy (3:45 and 7 p.m.), Improv Jam (7:30 p.m.)

This weekendFall Guy continues, along with Wicked Little Letters (Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley; R)  

— Edited press release from Basie Center Cinemas