Star Cinema just announced the closing date and film for Hilldale Theatre. Long rumored to shut down sometime over the winter as part of the ongoing Hilldale Mall redevelopment on the near west side of Madison, the theatre will screen its final film on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 17. This film is The Sound of Music, the classic musical that was the first film to be screened at Hilldale when it opened on January 19, 1966.
Over the weekend of Dec. 15-17, the final weekend before the Christmas and New Year's long holiday weekends rounding out the month, Hilldale will screen a "Sing-a-Long Sound of Music." Twice each day, the theatre will screen a subtitled version of the film staring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, perfect for karaoke and Rocky Horror enthusiasts looking to join the chorus.
Like that other British musical released a decade later, the sing-a-long will also feature props, to be handed out to filmgoers by Hilldale. Likewise, there is also an on-stage costume contest, in which prizes will be awarded for creativity. As promoted by the theatre, the sing-a-long "is the perfect night out for families, co-workers, or anyone who's ever shed a tear during 'Edelweiss.'"
After the final sing-a-long ends that Sunday night, the theatres will be closed for good, and Hilldale will be making way for the new Sundance Cinemas.
The name of the new multiplex is Sundance 608. As described promotionally, the theatre "will feature 6 state of the art movies screens, all stadium plush seating, a café open morning 'til night, 2 bars and a restaurant plus the Sundance Gallery, selling Sundance merchandise and work from local artisans." Its exact opening date has not been publicized yet, though it is currently listed as sometime in the spring of 2007, likely in March.
There are more details about the theatre's offerings in an FAQ published by Sundance Cinema. This includes details about its plans for reserved seating at every show, no pre-screening commercials, along with "bars and bistros, lounges with wi-fi access and retail space all designed to create a 'third place' atmosphere." This includes a café, a small-plates bistro and a rooftop bar alongside the popcorn and candy. "There's no need to purchase a ticket to the movies to visit our location," Sundance boasts.
This FAQ also notes that the theatre will not be participating in the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival, always an unlikely prospect given the closeness of Sundance's uncertain opening date to the timing of the fest. And for those interested in the Sundance figurehead Robert Redford, the company expects him to appear at the theatre's grand opening.