Using terms like "experience" and "third space," Sundance Cinemas welcomed local media on a hard hat tour of the Sundance 608 theaters at Hilldale Shopping Center Wednesday morning. The space, still very much under construction, will hold six auditoriums with stadium seating, a café serving Peet's Coffee, two bars, a restaurant and a Sundance Gallery shop. It will officially open on Friday, May 11.
Paul Sherer of the Kahler Slater architecture firm spoke highly of his experience with Sundance. "We're thrilled as a firm because visionaries are tough to come by."
According to Sherer, the space is designed to convey "rough elegance," an idea that came directly from Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford. That includes a lobby that evokes a meandering river, complete with stone walls, reclaimed "ebony oak" details and even birch trees. The common lounge areas will feature WiFi Internet access and furniture from the Sundance catalog. The lobby cafe and lounges will be open to the public starting at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends.
Visitors won't need a movie ticket to access the lounges or restaurant and two bars in the theater. The idea, according to Nancy Gribler, Sundance vice president of marketing, is to bring a completely new and unique movie-going experience to Madison. "After work, before a movie, you can come and have a few drinks," she said. Monitors located throughout will remind distracted patrons of showtimes.
The auditoriums themselves have high-back, rocking seats with movable armrests in a stadium-style configuration. Movie goers will be able to purchase reserved seats on the Sundance Cinemas website, at one of several kiosks located throughout the facility or at the "concierge desk" in the lobby. Earth tones pervade the facility, along with modern light fixtures. For more photos, click "Gallery" under the photo at right.
Sundance 608 will host three events to benefit Madison-area non-profit organizations during the week prior to opening:
- Sunday, May 6: Chazen Museum of Art will host "Moving Pictures" with hors d'oeuvres, performances from the UW-Madison music and theater departments and a premiere of a "national release arts film." For ticket information, contact the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office at 608-262-2201.
- Monday, May 7: The River Alliance of Wisconsin will host "Reelin' for Rivers" which will premiere a new release as well as screen other Robert Redford films, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Local musicians the Stellanovas will perform. According to Rivers Alliance executive director Denny Caneff, the evening will celebrate Wisconsin rivers and "river people." Visit wisconsinrivers.org for ticket details.
- Tuesday, May 8: Outreach will host "An Evening on the Red Carpet," featuring a film premiere, performances from Lynette, the Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus and Proud Theater, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Call 608-255-8582 for ticket details.
Gribler also stressed that Sundance 608 plans on selling work from local artists in the Sundance Gallery shop, as well as displaying paintings and other works on the lobby walls.