Yesterday I dropped by the Metro (the 1980s-era tenplex in the University District) and got a sneak peek at the major changes being planned by the theater’s new operator, Sundance Cinemas. (The Metro sign’s still in place, but I believe the theater will eventually be known as the Sundance Cinema Seattle, part of Sundance’s six-theaters-and-growing chain). Things look interesting! Here’s what I learned:
— The renovation is currently in progress (a few of the screens are open for business, but things are a bit chaotic). You can follow the changes via weekly photo updates on Sundance’s website, here. It will remain a tenplex, but every theater is having its “slope seating” (remember how bad the sightlines were?) changed to “platform seating,” which is not quite as dramatic as “stadium seating” but should be a great improvement. There will be fewer seats and more legroom, with small tables between each pair of seats. The smaller cinemas will change from having a central aisle to a side aisle.
— In the lobby, the snack area will be revamped to include a full bar and dining options to include pizza, sandwiches and salads as well as traditional movie snacks. The upstairs mezzanine area will be turned into a “living room” space, with couches and seating centered around a fireplace.
— Patrons will be able to take all drinks and food to their seats in every theater; there will be no in-theater service (a la Cinebarre).
— Which means: the theater will be a fully 21-and-over-only facility, once it reopens.
— After the reopening, all seats will be reserved. Most but not all screenings will require a $3 surcharge (on top of the regular ticket price, which currently tops out at $10.50).
— I asked Sundance Cinemas president/CEO Paul Richardson, who was on-site yesterday, about the cellphone policy. He said, no cellphones. An announcement will play before every movie alerting moviegoers to the policy, and he said that in other Sundance outlets, it hasn’t been a problem — and that, on the rare cases that it is, offenders are asked to put their phones away.
Looking forward to seeing how the place looks when all is finished. I asked for a re-opening date and that’s still fairly up in the air, but “midsummer” looks likely. I’ll keep you posted.
(Oh, and on that note, I’m off for a couple of days; back on the blog Monday.)