Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas will take over the Sunset 5 complex in West Hollywood after Laemmle Theatres was unable to come to terms with the landlord on a new lease. The theater will close at the end of November, the LA Times reported, and will reopen in late spring after undergoing renovations. The venue had been a staple of indie and art movies for 20 years, but the glossy lure of Pacific’s Grove, Arclight Hollywood and the Landmark in West L.A. increasingly siphoned specialized fare away from the Sunset 5. Laemmle president Greg Laemmle conceded “we started seeing fewer and fewer” indie and arty hits because “distributors were under pressure to get into the Arclight.”
It will be interesting to see what Sundance does with its entrance into the Los Angeles market. Its other venues in San Francisco, Houston and Madison, Wis., present alternative programming, lectures and special screening series that tie in with the Sundance Film Festival and related activities. Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard lamented the departure of Laemmle as “the end of the era. All of our movies eventually went through the Sunset,” But he suggested that “a face-lift on the theater may attract new audiences and make it a place to be.”
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