The opening of the first Sundance Cinemas in Los Angeles seems a perfect way to bring summer to a close. The new theatre opened in the space once occupied by the Sunset 5 which Laemmle Theatres operated for two decades before it was shuttered last December. The new venue has been named Sundance Sunset Cinema and, much like the Sunset 5 before it, will feature mostly independent and art house titles. It opened on August 31st.
Sundance Sunset Cinema is the fifth location to be opened by Sundance Cinemas, which operates theatres in Houston, TX, Madison, WI, San Francisco, CA and Seattle, WA. A sixth location in Westchester, NY is planned for later this year. The circuit is part of the Sundance Group, the corporate entity that houses all of multi-hyphenate Robert Redford’s Sundance related businesses, including the annual festival. The actor/director, who grew up in Los Angeles, recently told KCRW radio host Warren Olney on “Which Way LA“, that the opening of Sundance Sunset Cinema is a bit of a homecoming for him.
“…I feel that it’s a chance to bring back something that I truly loved as a kid,” said Redford. “….you bring it back in a way that you experienced films when you were young. You didn’t see six trailers in a film blasting your ears away.”
Expanding Sundance Cinemas has been a longtime goal of Redford who has always thought the 10-day film festival he holds every January in Park City, Utah could easily expand throughout the entire country if there were theatres to show independent films. In the mid-1990s, as the Sundance Film Festival grew ever larger, Redford said, “…it didn’t seem to have that opportunity because there was still a lock by the major studios and the theater owners. There was not enough space or a place for independent films at that time. So the decision was to go electronically and so we started the Sundance Channel, but in my head the better preference was always going to be could we do a live experience.”