Tinker Street Cinema has been lighting up its small-town big screen in Woodstock since 1961. Locals have decades of memories of seeing films here, including current owner Andy Braunstein.
“My first movie here was The Fox and the Hound in 1981,” Andy recalls. “I saw Roger Rabbit here. Ed Wood, twice. I got dragged out to lots of mature stuff too, like Prêt-à-Porter and The Piano. I hated The Piano.”
Andy took over the theater in 2021. Previously he’d been promoting music but was ready for a change when the opportunity presented itself, and the pandemic seemed like it was about to wind down. Plus, he did have some experience screening films.
“I’ve been hosting film screenings my whole life,” he says. “I used to have Godzilla marathon sleepover parties with my friends when I was a kid.”
The early affinity for Godzilla begins to explain his aesthetic and some of the films you’ll find on offer at the cinema, this month including a Spanish-speaking Bat-Woman from the 60s (with subtitles.)
“I specialize in cult, trash and stuff that is exciting to see on the big screen,” he says. “I try to put on a little something for everyone but I mostly aim towards freaks, misfits, rockers, weirdos, outcasts, gays and children. It’s 80% a revival house. Seems to be working out.”
There are many practical concerns for a one-screen theater that the general public might not know about. For example, to show a new release, the movie house has to agree to a two-week screening with no other movies in between. In a small town, this is often a recipe for losing money.
This said, Tinker Street did present Studio 666 recently, a horror film featuring the Foo Fighters, which didn’t do well, but Andy felt he had to show it anyway just because he wanted to. And get ready for a full run of the new Barbie film in July, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
July will also feature films shot exclusively in Upstate NY. As always, Tinker Street has cartoon matinees on Saturdays, Documentary Wednesdays, and Psychotronic Tuesdays with a variety of cult favorites.
“People drive from far and wide for Psychotronic Tuesdays,” Andy says. “The post-pandemic has made people extremely nostalgic. I’ve always been extremely nostalgic myself.”
And then there are the snacks. Tinker Street’s snack bar features the usual candy, classics from Haribo, fancy stuff from the folks nearby at Fruition, crazy stuff like canisters of cake frosting, and when it comes to popcorn, game on.
“We have the largest selection of popcorn toppings on the East Coast,” Andy claims. He’s also extremely proud of the staff at Tinker Street, which he describes as A+.
The 160-seat cinema, which is housed in a former church dating back to the Civil War era, also has its eye to the future. Andy recently purchased two 35mm projectors from New Paltz Cinema which will be installed very soon. As far as he knows, Tinker Street will be the only spot in the state outside of NYC that will be showing 35mm. Folks who’ve grown used to seeing only digital projection don’t always realize what they’ve been missing.
“Our 16mm shows have been doing great so I can only imagine what 35mm will do for us,” Andy says. “Seeing stuff on real film is very cool and comforting. It’s very exciting!”
Andy feels lucky to have been born and raised in Woodstock, with its healthy mix of punk legends, hippies, beatniks and swimming holes. He misses the Little Bear Chinese restaurant, but thinks that, between the Colony, Tinker Street Tavern, Opus 40 and others, entertainment options are better than ever.
“No offense to the town drum circle and jam bands, but this town needed more.”
By keeping Tinker Street Cinema rolling, independent, and freaky in the best possible way, Andy and staff are helping to provide just that.