Volume 16 • Issue 51 | May 14 - 20, 2004

Businesses say business was up for film festival

By David H. Ellis

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Whoopi Goldberg tried her feet at double Dutch for the crowds Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival’s family street fair.

If early figures are right, for the third year in a row, Tribeca area businesses, hotels and restaurants piggybacked on the success of last week’s Tribeca Film Festival to capture a brief economic windfall during the nine-day event.

Although the total revenue neighborhood merchants earned has not been calculated yet, organizers of the festival believe that the money spent in Tribeca on hotel rooms, dining and even bottled water during this year’s event will top the $50 million mark set in 2003.

Tribeca restaurants such as Ivy Bistro and Il Mattone, witnessed busy Friday and Saturday nights at the end of the festival and estimated their revenues doubled during those nine days. “It was good,” said Charles Fusco, the owner of Il Mattone about the economic upshot of the event. “I wish it could happen every weekend.”

Film festival organizers said that so far, all signs point up as approximately 80,000 tickets were sold to the 250 different films, a jump from last year’s tally of 63,000. Other events such as Saturday’s fair on Greenwich St. helped local stores and vendors as festival planners estimate just over 300,000 people attended, which was up 20 percent from 250,000 attendees last year. Organizers said Saturday’s concert in Battery Park that featured artists Van Morrison and Macy Gray and a mock drive-in on Pier 25 that included a broadcast of the final episode of the television show “Friends” helped bring roughly 19,000 people to Lower Manhattan.

Thomas Trube, the store manager of the designer clothing store Issey Miyake Tribeca at Hudson and N. Moore Sts., said he noticed a moderate boost in business due to the influx of filmgoers in the neighborhood.

“We had an increase in the traffic during the week and through the weekend,” he said. “Not a huge increase in traffic, but an increase.”

Most area hotels were near capacity during the festival, including the Tribeca Grand Hotel, the Embassy Suites Hotel in Battery Park City and the Millenium Hilton hotel on Church St., although the nearly full hotels were not entirely due to the thousands of visitors that were anxious to spot budding Hollywood stars or peruse the films of aspiring filmmakers.

“It’s hard to say because the city has been busy in general,” said Mike McGilligan, manager of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Battery Park City, pointing to a citywide convention that was taking place at the same time. “The positive of the festival is bringing people down to Battery Park and to Downtown and that’s important for Downtown to have a renaissance following 9/11.”

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