Report: Sundance Cinemas Replacing Angelika Film Center at Bayou Place; Bar Smorgasbord Moving in Upstairs

The city of Houston and the Cordish Company are “deep into negotiations” with Sundance Cinemas to take over the former Angelika Theater spot at Bayou Place, Steven Thomson reports. Robert Redford’s Sundance Group has operated 2 Sundance Cinemas since 2007 — an 8-screen complex in San Francisco and a 6-screen multiplex in Madison, Wisconsin. If Sundance does end up taking over the vacant Angelika space at 510 Texas St. and maintains all existing screens, it would tie with the Sundance Kabuki Cinema near Pacific Heights as the largest complex in the small chain. The company appears to have scaled back the aggressive expansion plans it announced 4 years ago, which included new theaters in Chicago and Denver. The Angelika Film Center closed suddenly last summer.


Meanwhile, an 18,000-sq.-ft. upstairs space at Bayou Place — occupied most recently by Rocbar — is currently being renovated to make room for 4 new prefab themed bars, all owned by the same company, and set to open successively beginning at the end of March: PBR, a country-western bar complete with — yes, a mechanical bull; Shark Bar, featuring eighties and nineties music; Lucy’s Liquors, which will have a Caribbean “vibe”; and Chapel Spirits, which according to Thomson has already picked up its own celebrity spokesperson. A fifth unthemed bar will be set up on a new outdoor patio wrapping around the outside of the building. Houston Lounge’s Daniel Maher tells the Chronicle‘s Purva Patel that his company will be “going for volume business,” with no drinks priced higher than $7.

A few weeks from now, a sushi restaurant called The Blue Fish will also be opening in the entertainment center carved out of the former Albert Thomas Convention Center. The Dallas chain, which is not related to Blue Fish House (on Richmond Ave. and Sugar Land and Conroe) also plans to open a second location next to the Benjy’s on Washington Ave. A Brazilian rodizio restaurant called Samba Grill opened in the same complex last year.

Photo: Aaron Carpenter

18 Comment

  • That’s the best news I’v heard in a long time for Downtown! I miss Angelika so much!

  • This is triple good news because in addition to bringing art films back to downtown, and a fun happy hour locale to the theater district, samba will have a crowd to draw from. If you haven’t been to samba, you are doing yourself a real disservice.

  • Wonderful news, Houston has been floundering in the abyss of bad first run theaters since Angelina shut down. It is so wrong that a city like Houston only has the RO.

  • In regard to Sundance Cinemas, that’s potentially great news, but honestly, I wonder if it won’t succumb to the same fate as its predecessor. Even if it manages to reel in the handful of film buffs gasping for air in this sprawling sea of easily titillated Transformers, it still has to deal with being in a somewhat awkward spot. I just don’t see the independent film crowd planning a night of avant-garde cinema and theme bar hopping. Yee-haw, Thaddeus! Ride that bull.

  • I applaud Sundance Theatres, but the theme bars sound like a place where douches and tools go to hang out.

  • This is fantastic news for Houston citizens looking for high quality cinema in a centralized location. I too am concerned that such a large space can remain viable when so many businesses have folded in that location.



  • The bars are exactly the same as those in the Power & Light area of Kansas City. P&L is typically only busy when a big event is in town (i.e. the Big XII Championship or conference tourney). I’m surprised that they didn’t try to have the whole thing up and running before the Final Four gets here.

  • It’s not Alamo Drafthouse, but I’ll take it.

  • Ya’ll come and I’ll go.
    Be Angel(ika), Sundance,
    and make parking free.

  • I agree with kilray. Sundance with the themed bars make odd bedfellows. From a business perspective, it doesn’t seem like a great move since the crowds they would attract are so different from each other — it’ll eventually turn off one of the crowds to even visit Bayou Place as a whole.

    Personally, I’d prefer to see Sundance and other establishments that fit well into the theater district scene.

  • I think some of the other commenters are jumping to conclusions with respect to the proposed bars. If executed well, I don’t see how a bar featuring 80’s & 90’s music would automatically be at odds with an audience that’s also interested in limited-release films – that doesn’t seem like a huge stretch to me. While its future may be uncertain, I hope the Sundance Cinema moves in. Now that Angelika is gone, it makes me nervous that all of Houston has to depend on River Oaks…

  • What difference do the bars make, at least you will have some cross pollination of tastes. The Angelika sat amid a sea of bars and clubs. Remember it is the diversity that you should be attracted to if not, move to the burbs. Personally, I won’t be going to the bars before the movie, I would then fall asleep.

  • Good news on the theater, was sad to see the Angelika go.

    I’m a bit amazed/alarmed/amused that The High Tech Texan counts as a celebrity spokesperson though.

  • Houston will love having Sundance, but I am not sure if the market is ready for the pricing structure. Here in SF you pay for the ticket and a fee for an assigned seat, which is not an option. Throw parking on top of that and I am not sure if Houston is ready for the sticker shock going to a Sundance cinema brings with it.

  • Brandon, I actually loved that at theaters in LA (Arclight and another whose name escapes me) but yeah, I can see the possible backlash there. Should be interesting to see how that develops.

  • There is some kind of activity there today. There were beams that looked to be about W12s sitting in front of the old Angelika. Lots of yellow caution tape too.

  • @ Brandon,

    In this fee structure, are the reserved seating fees graduated based on how good the seats are? For example, would I save a buck or two if the only remaining seats are in the first three rows, but pay a premium for the seats exactly in the center?