Sundance Sunset West Hollywood — LA cinema report

The opening of Sundance Sunset West Hollywood ups the trend toward movie going as an “elite” experience.  It also ups the price.

Former home to the Laemmle Sunset 5, and situated at the SE corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights, the theater complex has been redone, with stadium seating, comfy chairs, digital sound, a patio, a lounge and a bar. An art gallery features the work of local artists, with the exhibitions changing every three months.

Following the precedent of the Arclight, tickets are available on a reserved seat basis only.   You can avoid those long pesky lines at the theater (which can be incredibly tedious as you wait for people to choose where they want to sit) and buy your ticket online.  You can select your seat and print your ticket online, too.

If you do purchase your tickets at the cinema, remember to bring ID.

Figuring out how much it will cost requires some computation.  Sundance has a baseline ticket price of $11 for a matinee ($10 for seniors), and $12 for an evening ticket.  But the theater charges an amenity fee – a surcharge tacked on to the base price, ranging from $1.00 to $3.00 depending on the day and time of your screening.  If you take in a noon show on Friday or Saturday, it’s a buck – but if you go in the early evening, the amenity fee is $3.00.  If you go in the early evening any other day, it’s $2.00.  If you go Sunday after 9 pm, it’s $1.50.  If you’re retired or are fortunate enough not to be working during the week (and don’t want to be) and you want to go at noon, the fee is waived.


So what’s the amenity fee for? The “insider’s guide” informs you it’s to offset the cost of reserved seating and to make up for lost revenue because Sundance does not run any advertising before the movie because that, they say, “diminishes the movie going experience.”

On the other hand, if you want to enhance the movie going experience with wine or beer, that option is available to you.  Besides indulging at the bar, you’re allowed to bring your drink into the theater, provided the film you’re seeing is designated for adults 21 and over. You can take food into the theater as well, and even full bottles of wine or champagne purchased on site.

That’s okay for people who like to get high during a movie, I guess.

Personally, I’d be a lot more excited about Sundance Sunset if they’d concentrate more on getting a movie lineup that wasn’t so run of the mill.  More foreign language films, for example.  More flicks from Down Under.  Although it’s supposed to be an Indie outlet, the films they do show are pretty much the same as the ones I can check out around the corner in my neighborhood or at any mainstream theater.  (Same blah selection goes for the new Laemmle NoHo and other theaters in that chain.) It would be nice if “elite” were less about amenities and more about variety and quality cinema, the way it’s supposed to be – and was, once upon a time.

Report by Deborah Klugman.


(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Deborah Klugman


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