Sundance Cinemas' new West Hollywood theater opens after complete remodel

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Sundance Cinemas opens its first Los Angeles theater in West Hollywood for business on Friday. The space, formerly Laemmle Sunset 5, was completely remodeled to fit Sundance's movie-watching philosophy.

"We believe strongly that going to the movies should be a very calm and non-stressful experience," said Nancy Gribler, Sundance Cinemas' vice president of marketing.

The new theater has an enlarged lobby to accommodate "little cubbyholes for drinking and hanging out." Upstairs, what used to be a manager's office is now a roomy lounge and an art gallery.

"We also took over the outside space and we made a beautiful patio, again with the idea that this should be a place to come and hang out and take a drink and talk about movies with people," she continued.

Stadium seating has replaced the sloped-floor theater, which can be reserved online or at the box office and kiosks.

"We put in the type of movie theater seats that we use, which are these rocking love seats with real wool fabric and recycled plastic, and there's little 'tablettes' between every two seats," Gribler said.

Theater patrons will watch movies projected on new digital cinema projectors from five new screens. Though it seems nothing was left untouched, Gribler said they kept two 35-millimeter projectors.

"You just need to when you're showing all art and independent film," she added.

The theater launches first with the popular film, "Robot & Frank." The comedy takes place in the near-future, when a man gifts his aging father (and ex-jewel thief) a robot butler programmed to take care of him:

Other films among the first to hit the L.A. Sundance Cinemas' screens are "Searching for Sugarman," "Chicken in Plums" and "The Good Doctor."

This is the fifth location, joining other theaters in Madison, Wisc.; San Francisco; Houston and Seattle. The next is slated for opening 2014 in Westchester, NY.

The theater is only a few miles from its sister company, the Sundance Institute. Gibler said the institute is expected to make a large announcement regarding possible tie-ins with the cinema very soon.

"Suffice to say that we will be connected to the film festival very closely," she said.

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