Inside Houston’s New Sundance Cinemas Downtown

Here’s what you’ll want to know about the new Sundance Cinemas taking the place of the shuttered Angelika Film Center in Bayou Place downtown: First, you’ll still get 3 hours of free parking underground. Seating is by single-seat reservation only, but you’ll be able to pick your preferred movie-watching spot (and print out your tickets) from the comfort of your own computer if you want to avoid lines. Adult tix for evening shows are $10.50 ($3 less for matinees), but there’s a tacked-on “amenity fee” that varies from nothing to $3 depending on the time of day and day of the week of your showing. What amenities will you be receiving in return for that little upcharge? Well, there’s the parking, the seat-reservation system, and the facility’s cost of maintaining “as green a facility as possible.” Plus, the 8-screen theater promises no TV-style advertisements before movies start.

And how’s the place looking so far?


The revamped space isn’t complete yet — the theater won’t open officially until November 23rd — but already you can see the influence of that rough-hewn Sundance ski resort look (forged from local cypress and oak). Food and drinks will be available from the Sundance Bar in the lobby, and you’ll be able to carry your champagne bottle and glassware or glistening popcorn into the theater with you. Also inside: a mini art gallery featuring the work of local artists, as well as “living rooms” displaying items from the Sundance Catalog.

More pix here.

Photos: Candace Garcia

38 Comment

  • Amenities, three hours of free parking, green, Robert Redford, blah, blah, blah… $10.50 FOR ONE ADULT TICKET? ARE YOU CRAZY????

  • $13.50 for a movie! Where do I sign up! I hope they have $10 candy and $15 popcorn. And there better be no free tap water.

  • Wait. Angelika was having trouble getting enough business to even be able to afford to fix the restrooms, so Sundance is going to come in with a whole lot of upfront costs to recover and expect people to come downtown and pay well over 10 bucks for a movie? Maybe a premium movie theatre experience is attractive to some people but that’s way too pricy for Joe Actionflick and I don’t see them staying afloat catering only to the art-cinema crowd, if Greenway couldn’t with its tiny screens and deferred maintenance.

  • AWESOME, those prices will definitely keep the undesirables out. I’ll finally be able to attend a safe, clean, and quiet movie theater near my home.

  • the free parking helps. Plus, regular AMC tickets for an adult are $10.50…

  • I’d gladly pay a little extra for a movie to have a nicer facility than the big chains.

  • I loved going to the Angelika before it closed to avoid the throngs of teenagers at the theater on Wesleyan or the gangsta wannabes at Edwards Marq E. It was never busy (I’m sure part of the reason it closed) and really convenient to get to. I’m happy to pay a couple extra bucks if it means we get to have a quality theater in downtown. Honestly, $10.50+ is really not that much more than anywhere else nowadays, unless you get a student/old person/matinee discount. I’m looking forward to the Sundance!

  • Worth mentioning that Rob Arco, formerly of Movies! The Store(Richmond@Mandell), is the manager, way to go Rob!

    Also, $13 may seem high for a movie ticket, but it’s not 1994 anymore, this isn’t some barely air-conditioned flick shack hanging off the end of a strip mall, and it’s going to be a premium experience – c’mon, you can make a seat reservation! no seperate parking fee! no arm-rest wrestling! I bet they will even peel the gum off the bottoms of the seats each and every night!

  • Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that’s a reasonable price when you compare it to other locations. The Edwards MarqE is $10.25 for a normal ticket on the weekend…I will gladly spend an extra $3.25 to have more space, pick your seats ahead of time, less kids (with the +21 showings they offer) and the convenience of easily accessible parking in the middle of the city.

  • I live just a few blocks from the Edwards on Weslayan. Here’s the secret. Go to an evening show in the middle of the week and you have the place to yourself…no crowds. You couldn’t pay me to go to the movies on a weekend night.

  • I know it was just pointed out that $10.50 happens to be the going price everywhere else, too, but i’m still sort of confused by the first few comments here. Have you even been to a movie lately? The Edwards Greenway is the same price and you have to pay for parking. Are you also aware that gas no longer costs $2/gallon and popcorn is more than a nickel? So for pretty much the same price as anywhere else, you’ll get a much nicer experience and the opportunity to have a drink with the movie. Sounds win/win to me.

  • Price is reasonable, if you could have a beer, wine, or cocktail at your custom selected seat, place would be an ‘effn gem.

  • PS: Go Rob!

  • hopefully they’ll have the connections and licensing to bring a lot of the festival flicks to the big screen in here in town as well. Landmark RO and MFAH just don’t cut it.

  • The main sticking point will be parking. There are plenty of people in Houston who want to see good movies. But, getting to Angelika for an evening showing was always hell when you had to fight with all the people going to symphony, opera, theater, etc. for parking. It is really a mess around 7 pm every Fri and Sat night down there. Sundance should get privileges with one of the surface lots up towards Market Place to give people a chance to have accessible parking for free without having to deal with the trauma of that underground lot.

  • High-quality arts cinema like no other in Houston – Allen and friends will support it

  • Robert Redford is clearly a visionary amongst the eco-sensitive, sustainable, socially-progressive, green-friendly enviro-capitalists of our era. Al Gore don’t got nothin’ on Robert Redford.

  • Lemme get this straight, because we are getting ripped off at every single other movie house in Houston, I should be elated that Robert Redford is ONLY charging me $.50 more than Landmark River Oaks and only $.25 more than MarQuee? Oh, thank you, Robert Reford! Thank you, thank you!

  • Finally, an opportunity to see good movies in Houston again. A bargain at any cost. River Oaks has not filled the gap left by Angelika’s departure.

    (Upside: I got to see/address George and Barbara Bush at River Oaks in the interim.)

  • Mel:

    You can see a movie (non-matinee) at the Premiere Renaissance theater in Greenspoint Mall for just $9.00–and parking is free! (It’s actually not a bad theater–brand new, clean, etc. And it happens to be handy to my workplace. I saw Drive there a few weeks ago.)

  • Mel, there’s no reason to get elated at any cinema for expensive ticket prices, but where’s the sense in getting all up in arms with Sundance’s prices when they are in line with everyone else (and when there’s the opportunity to provide a much more enjoyable experience)?

  • Looking at those pictures, I can almost feel the pretentiousness.

  • I would gladly pay an extra $3 to not have to watch commercials for 30 minutes before the movie starts.

  • But those some niiice looking seats!
    A roaring fireplace and hot rum toddies would be good…
    Also, wouldn’t it be great if intermittant snow flurries fell from the ceilings?

  • It doesn’t matter to me that it’s only a little more expensive than the already-way-too-expensive big theatres in Houston. Those kind of prices are simply too high for my movie-going budget, period. And if that’s true for me it’s probably true for lots more people, too. The ONLY way movies in a theatre make financial sense anymore, especially for a family of three, is at matinee prices in a far suburban theatre. Obviously some people disagree, but I am skeptical that there are enough of them to cover what looks like Sundance’s substantial overhead.

  • But, Marmer, i just looked up ticket prices for the Cinemark in Katy, and it is $7.50 for a matinee, the same matinee price at Sundance. OK, a buck more on Friday and Saturday, so just go on a Sunday when there is no fee.
    Again, i’m not trying to justify anyone’s high ticket prices but people like @Quinn and others just see pretentiousness or have some inexplicable dislike of Robert Redford. If i was going to get upset, it would be at all the other cinemas that charge the same as Sundance and barely maintain the places.

  • I love the individual armrests. I wish they had those on airplanes.

  • If this theater is too expensive for you, just stay home and watch TV with Earline and the kids. No need to whine about it.

  • Y’all can’t have nothin’ nice.

  • And now you’ve finally hit on the point. The theater isn’t for me and Marmer and Earline and the kids. It’s for people named Devin and Carin and Spike.

  • Is Greenspoint is showing Drive or Drive-by?

  • Having lived in a place where virtually every weekend night movie showing sells out, and you need to show up 30 minutes before showtime to make sure you can two seats next to each other, I truly appreciate the value of assigned seating in movie theaters. That, and the seats look pretty comfy.
    If the extra $3 a ticket is really a big issue for you, then you’re probably not their target demographic.

  • I’m pleased that Sundance will be an option for movies here, at any price. If you’re looking for a free option, you can hit up Thedra & Stephen’s place, Independence Art Studios, on a Friday night. Tonight at 8 they’re showing The Blob in their backyard & it’s BYOB/dog friendly! They were the topic of this previous Swamplot post:

  • I am definitely not their target demographic, but it’s not really about me. From what I’ve seen at several movie theatres, movies are basically a mass-market commodity. I doubt they are going to be able to get enough people to come downtown to a movie to cover their much higher overhead if the cheaper Angelika couldn’t. That’s all.

  • This is a quality of life issue, and I am glad the Sundance chain is taking a chance on the Houston market, especially given the failure of Angelica. The art film market niche isn’t well addressed in Houston. I’ve been to the Cinerama Dome in LA and really liked their reserved seat idea. Despite the complaints of cranks like Mel and Marmer, plenty of people will be willing to pay a little extra for the privilege of having reserved seats and the opportunity to see something other than this week’s latest Hollywood Blockbuster.

  • That whole facility has an air conditioning problem. I loved being able to ride a bike over to anjelika, but hated the fact that it was ALWAYS hot in there. Same thing at Verizon. So if they can get that figured out, I’ll gladly attend a movie there. If not, guess I’m watchin with the teenagers and gangsta’s.

  • Well, I can’t wait to get inside and take a good look around. The pictures look fabulous!

    I think Sundance will do well here.

  • I wouldn’t mind paying extra to sit in attendance with a better-heeled crowd. Not to sound like a jerk, but going to a place like Marq-E.. people talking during the movie gets obnoxious.