Sundance Cinemas, LLC, announced Thursday that it’s signed an agreement to purchase the Kabuki 8 Theatre. Sundance Cinemas plans on taking over the property after the completion of the SF International Film Festival, and plans on giving the theater “a significant facelift” before reopening in early fall of 2006 under the name “Sundance Kabuki.” “We are looking forward to working with Sundance Cinemas during this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival and beyond,” said Graham Leggat, SFFS executive director.
This is the second location for Sundance Cinemas; the first is under construction in Madison, Wisconsin, and is planned to open in November, 2006. Said Robert Redford, Sundance Group President, in the company’s press release, “As San Francisco holds a special place in my heart and is one of the nation’s great centers of independent film, I am particularly excited to have found such a perfect home for Sundance in this city.” Sundance Cinemas CEO Paul Richardson said, in the release, that “The Kabuki is a dream location for Sundance. The theatre has a great location central to all of San Francisco and we are very pleased to be part of the Japan-town community.” When AMC Theatres and Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation merged, the Department of Justice required the sale of ten theaters, one of which was the Kabuki 8.
Charles Burress reported in Friday’s San Francisco Chronicle that community leaders in Japantown are, for the most part, pleased by the sale, and are hopeful that the community’s connections with theater, which hosted many events, including activities related to the Cherry Blossom Festival and Day of Remembrance, will continue to be strong. He also noted that Sundance Cinemas President of Film and Marketing, Bert Manzari and CEO Paul Richardson led Landmark Theatres during its nationwide expansion.
The Sundance Group is a business entity owned by Robert Redford, and the Group oversees Redford’s ownership interests in Sundance Village, Sundance Catalog, Sundance Channel, Sundance Cinemas, LLC, as well as his involvement in the not-for-profit Sundance Institute, Sundance Film Festival and the North Fork Preservation Alliance.
Said Leggat, “Early conversations with Sundance Cinemas prior to this public announcement have been positive, so we also expect to be presenting a number of programs and events at the new Kabuki when it opens in the fall, including a mid-October San Francisco International Animation Festival and Market and Digital Media Conference, as well as our New Italian Cinema Festival in November. The Kabuki is the most flexible venue in town and the one best suited to a festival like the International, so we are not looking to move. We expect to have a sympathetic and enjoyable relationship with Sundance Cinemas.”
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