Film at Lincoln Center is proud to celebrate 30 years of the beloved Walter Reade Theater, which opened its doors on December 3, 1991. In honor of the monumental anniversary, we’re launching a series of ticket and merch giveaways in the theater! Explore the history of the theater A.O. Scott from The New York Times called “the best place in Manhattan to watch a movie,” giveaway details, and some of our favorite Q&As at WRT throughout the years.


Wendy Keys, Joanne Koch, and Richard Pena in 1990.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Film at Lincoln Center (formerly the Film Society) was recognized and admired by New Yorkers and the international community for its various programs. Yet it still had no dedicated year-round venue. Establishing a location on campus had been a priority for the organization since the late ’70s. In 1980, an opportunity arose when Lincoln Center acquired a significant plot of land on 65th Street—a new building on this site would satisfy the needs of many of the arts organizations on the Lincoln Center campus. For FLC, this became the location for a possible theater, one it would take more than a decade to realize. With the help of architects Igor Hilbert (based in France) and Lew Davis (New York); the oversight of Board members Alfred Stern, Sheldon Gunsberg, and Roy Furman; the stewardship of Executive Director Joanne Koch; and the ambition of newly hired Program Director Richard Peña (who had been in charge of the film program at the Art Institute of Chicago), the 268-seat Walter Reade Theater was planned for the Rose Building, already occupied by the Juilliard School and the School of American Ballet.

The name of the venue came from of a generous gift from the Walter Reade Foundation (Reade died in an avalanche while skiing in 1973), while Furman, who became the FLC’s President in 1988, provided the naming gift for the reception and exhibition space across the lobby from the theater—the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery. Officially opening its doors on December 3, 1991, the Walter Reade was instantly recognized as the best place to see repertory film programming in New York, and it remains a state-of-the-art facility for digital projection.

First brochure at the Walter Reade Theater.

Explore Film at Lincoln Center’s virtual timeline highlighting achievements and milestones from the last 50 years.


Charles Burnett’s To Sleep With Anger

  • On Monday, November 29 and Giving Tuesday, November 30, donate any amount to FLC or purchase a new or gift membership and you’ll receive two free tickets to a WRT screening of your choice in December (a film from Danny Glover and Louverture Films on December 1 or 2, Benedetta, or France). Winners will be contacted the week of November 29 via e-mail. All tickets subject to availability.

Courtesy of IFC Films.

  • On December 3, select audience members for Benedetta will be eligible for giveaways throughout the day, including official Film at Lincoln Center tote bags, backpacks, pins, and more. Prizes will be available in the WRT lobby.
  • During Benedetta’s opening weekend, we’re giving away exclusive prayer candles on our Twitter and Instagram. To enter, purchase a ticket to Benedetta on Dec. 3, 4, or 5 and tag @FilmLinc on Twitter or Instagram with your ticket receipt for a chance to win. Winners will be contacted prior to their screening to pick up the candles at the Walter Reade box office.

Q&As and Talks in the WRT

Enjoy some of our favorite Q&As at Walter Reade Theater throughout the years!