November 5, 2005

The first Sundance Cinemas theater -- it will be in Madison!

Ah, joy!
The new theater complex will be operated by the Sundance Group, a development company owned by actor and director Robert Redford. With six screens, the 27,250-square-foot complex will anchor the [Hilldale] mall's south end and will offer food and drinks as well as Sundance merchandise.

The Hilldale Theatre will continue operations until shortly before Sundance Cinemas opens next fall. The current theater is slated for demolition as part of the $70 million renovation project currently under way at the mall.
Good riddance! Madison has been plagued with the problem of the best films being shown in the worst theaters. We have lots of beautiful theaters but they typically only show the standard commercial films. Nearly every time there's a new film I've cared about seeing it's been at Hilldale or, worse, Westgate. It drives me crazy. Usually, I go into wait-for-the-DVD mode.

Thanks for picking us, Bob! Apparently, Madison has a big reputation for loving great films.

12 comments:

Jake said...

Do you think it will succeed? Statistics show that there is a huge trend to waiting for the DVD.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Great location for it (both Madison and Hilldale Mall)!

XWL said...

The wait for DVD phenomena is one reason why Stephen Soderberg is pushing for a new distribution paradigm where films are released on cable, in theaters and on DVD simultaneously as to maximize the effect and minimize the cost of marketing.

I think the new assumption being that audiences segregate themselves by preferred venue, so to stagger the release of product across these venues only dilutes the effectiveness of the marketing and public appearances of the stars. (If you hadn't bothered to see Shopgirl in the theatres will you remember about Steve Martin on Letterman from 4 months ago?)

Also art-house type movies lend themselves to the home experience, small intimate movies driven by dialogue don't gain much by being viewed collectively (unless there is a Q&A after the picture with one of the creators or a scholar, then attending the performance is a kind of worship, but that sort of opportunity only affords itself frequently in L.A. and NY).

Increasingly, big effects driven popcorn movies too aren't viewed any better in the theaters given inconsistent sound, projection, and the ever constant threat of phones, talkers, and seat kickers (plus there is the general feeling of ripped-offedness when you pay $15 a head for film and food when you can pay the same $15 and own the damn film).

Home theaters are getting too good at too low of prices, Movie houses are going to have to offer reasonable prices and superb environments to stem the tide of folks who prefer to watch all their films on DVD/Cable.

Brendan said...

I swung by Hilldale last summer when I was home. Talk about depressing. I must have counted 10 or more empty stores. It practically doubles as a senior center. Now I hear Marshall Fields is vacating. Believe it or not, Westgate is worse.

Ann, isn't there a theater in that complex that houses Paisans restaurant?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck b. said...

Are these theaters going to have stadium seating? Becuase I've decided that I hate stadium seating. It forces you to look at all the stragglers who had more sense to come to the theater after the commericals. Not really because of that, but because the arrival and presence of those people disrupt the enjoyment of the whole experience. Before, you never say the stragglers.
They were somewhere behind you.






Am I crazy?




Or just irritating?

Ann Althouse said...

Brendan: The theater where Paisan's is just shows typical Hollywood things and it's a shoddy, small place too.

Westgate is in the most depressing mall, and the screens are small and the seating bad. All the best movies play there, annoyingly enough.

My problem with the stadium seating theater I go to (Point) is that if you're late, it's way too dark to find an empty seat. You have to stand around waiting for your eyes to adjust and a bright scene to begin.

vbspurs said...

The new theater complex will be operated by the Sundance Group, a development company owned by actor and director Robert Redford. With six screens, the 27,250-square-foot complex will anchor the [Hilldale] mall's south end and will offer food and drinks as well as Sundance merchandise.

On the face of it, Ann, I'm happy for ya'll up there.

It's always enjoyable to have the film experience enhanced by a good cinemahouse. You feel eager to go to well-constructed, newer cinemahouses, or grandly restored older ones (still my favourite variety -- and one of my pet projects back in the UK, where I sought my local MP to help me save a few...).

But why am I not surprised Robert Redford chose Madison as his venue for the Sundance Group theatre chain?

My word.

Only Portland, Oregon would have more progressive bona fides than Madison.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

The Hilldale Theatre will continue operations until shortly before Sundance Cinemas opens next fall.

Hmm. I suppose too late to catch the first run of Albert Einstein's latest film:

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Took 29 power lunch hours to come up with that title, I betcha.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

I clicked on the link to see if they had a picture of the proposed building. What did I see but Robert Redford, looking like a saddlebag with eyes...Could they please get a nicer picture of the fellow? [I'm thinking "Electric Horseman" time frame.]

Or The Way We Were, and I hate Babs and he both, but my oh my, was he a fine set of man hunkage.

It's a shame that one always complains when Hollywood stars get the botox and lipo treatment, and then we still complain when they age naturally.

In Redford's case, they should've had his looks bronzed.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Joel Gratz said...

I wonder if the theater will be able to make it. Ann remarks that Madison must have a good reputaion for supporting independant films. But is this true? If it were, the theaters these are shown in now would be in better shape. The Majestic which used to be the main stay for independant movies was an amazing old theater but in lousy shape. Eventually Landmark got rid of it and then it stopped being a movie theater. Hildale actually could be a nice enough place, but they obviously don't make enough mney with the films to keep it up. By my estimation the marketplace for independents sucks in Madison.