Sundance back in loop

Theater chain in the works

Four years after pulling the plug on a Sundance Cinemas chain, Robert Redford’s Sundance Group has revived the concept with financing from Oaktree Capital Management and with veteran managers Paul Richardson and Bert Manzari on board.

Richardson has been tapped president-CEO, with Manzari named prexy of film and marketing. The duo, who have worked together since 1975, exited the Landmark chain a year ago.

“We are going to fast-track this and look at every major market,” Manzari told Daily Variety. He said details on specific locations should begin emerging in a few months.

The Utah-based Sundance Group said the chain will aim to show the best in independent, documentary and foreign-language film, quality studio films and original programming, including shorts, filmmaker interviews and forums.

“Anything which helps new and interesting voices in the cultural realm reach more people can only enrich the experience of artists, audiences and communities, and this makes the effort worth it,” Redford said.

The level of financial participation by Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital was not disclosed, but in the announcement Sundance noted funds managed by Oaktree have invested in exhibition and commercial real estate including Landmark Theaters, Loews Cineplex and Regal Theaters.

Sundance Cinemas was launched in 1997 by a for-profit unit of Sundance Group and General Cinemas, with initial plans for theaters to be in operation by the end of 1998. The concept was shelved in early 2001 amid the overall financial distress of the exhibition biz.

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