(click on the photo for slideshow)
By David Downs
Two things that kill any decent moviegoing experience:
1) The lack of booze.
2) The presence of children.
Which is why today I'm evangelizing for the soon-to-be-grand-opened Sundance Kabuki Cinemas on Post at Fillmore. I got a personal tour yesterday, and I want a season pass for Christmas, Mom.
Everyone knows the AMC Kabuki theaters across the street from the Fillmore, right next to Geary, right? The red sign? The white steel? Just another soulless AMC hellhole? Right? Wrong.
Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas gutted and upgraded the Kabuki and they finish this week.
The Mill Valley company bought the place from AMC one year ago, and launched a $6 million, six-month renovation, turning 1881 Post into a three-story art house. It's an Art Mansion. Management prefers the term "Film Center," which is sexy as hell, but I'm going with Art Mansion.
Like any good Art Mansion, you can watch flicks in an Over 21 Balcony that bans kids, and allows cocktails, with little table-ettes between chairs. Finally! A Saturday evening viewing of the Darjeeling Limited runs $13.50 a ticket, which is a steal at twice the price if it means the possibility of scotchety scotch scotch and the lack of bratz. Plus, seating is reserved, like sports events. So if you want to buy the one seat, and then an eight-seat buffer all around you, you can do so, rich weirdos. Ushers will enforce your germophobic tick.
Even the proles down below the balcony get the perks, though. Plush, reclining, brand new seats cradle my plush, reclining, movie-living ass. Sundance Cinemas wants to encourage snuggling, so the arm rest/cupholders swing up to reveal a padded loveseat for your heina. Commence ilicit theater nooky!
Outside the theaters, flat screen TVs update patrons on which theaters are boarding, or letting out. The smell of real popcorn and real butter reminds you that the AMC Metreon is run by hethen pigdogs — the kind of people that bring in huge bags of pre-popped butter and warm it up under hot lights.
Sundance Cinemas marketing wants you to know that they're kicking it conscious, too, with a local art gallery, local confections, Pete's Coffee, healthy foods, sustainable building materials, and electricity saving HVAC features. They want you to note the reclaimed wood in the new Kabuki Bar and the live bamboo towering into the lobby atrium.
It's still a bit of weird clash with the monstrous, fugly white steel beams AMC installed during the 80s. It's like walking through the Vietnamese jungle, while still inside the high school of Encino Man, but hey, it kicks the crap out of pretty much anything else in town.
This is place for people who think movies are art. Or in the case of Lions for Lambs, polemics. But given how crass, commercial and soul-sucking moviegoing has become Sundance Kabuki Cinemas represents a new zenith; another reason to be proud of living in San Francisco.
(Grand openings Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week. Go to the Sundance Site for hot pics of Mr. Redford. Also, the Yelp cult has been dropping by there throughout the rennovations, providing updates in their own weird, cultish ways.)
(Click on the photo for a slideshow of pics from the tour)