11620 Carmel Mountain Road, Carmel Mountain
For those who don’t relish the thought of paying upwards of $22 for the privilege of having theater mates pierce the darkness by phoning in mid-movie drink orders, there’s the Angelika Film Center.
The carpet was red, the sweltering evening sky spotted by klieg lights, and the crowd awash with glittering anticipation as the Angelika hosted a special VIP event last Thursday evening to preview its first West Coast location.
The state-of-the-art facility, which opened its doors to the public on October 9, is located in Carmel Mountain Plaza.
From the parking lot, the front patio — formerly a concrete slab now redesigned with spacious, comfortable seating in mind — looked like a packed dance floor. Fresh flowers and plastic cones of multiflavored popcorn topped each table.
Jo Ellen Brantferger, regional publicity director for the AFC, was there to welcome guests, along with events and promotions manager Lindsay Wallis and Angelika’s California Division Manager Jennifer Deering.
Since taking over the Pacific Chain in 2008, no one has worked harder to bring specialty films to our town’s finest screens than Angelika’s Chairman of the Board, Ellen Cotter.
The champagne glasses outnumbered the stars in heaven, as did the honor roll of studio reps in attendance. 20th Century Fox’s Rusty Gauthier and Janet Jackson turned out for the gala, and so did Richard Shamban from their sister company, Fox Searchlight Pictures. Paramount’s Joe Saladino and Laurie Groh were there — Laurie’s parents live near the theater — and so were Laurent Oukanine, Jeff Kerner, and Barbara Dretzke from the Weinstein Company. Others in the crowd included Travis Reid from Broad Green Pictures and Lionsgate’s Ana Abrahamian.
In addition to the bubbly proferred by the waitstaff that wound through the crowd, attendees were treated to a wine and beer bar, and an ice sculpture bearing the Angelika logo that doubled as a cocktail fountain. The menu included cornflake-crusted chicken tenders with Jack Daniels barbecue sauce and sweet-potato biscuits; conical glasses filled with mashed potatoes, short ribs and baby brussels sprouts; and mini chicken tacos with corn shooters. (Theatergoers will be able to enjoy some of these treats — created by veteran Food Network Executive Bruce Seidel and Chef Santos Loo — when visiting the theater.) Food Network chef and San Diego resident Melissa D’Arabian was there to take a bite out of her former coworker’s creations.
Many in attendance took the time to admire the floor-to-ceiling display of posters from top-grossing films. Others took time to pass through each of the 12 “elegantly-appointed auditoria,” all of which feature electric recliners that render La-Z-Boys shiftless in every sense of the word. For the bargain hunters in the crowd, all shows before noon are $8.50 with a top ticket weekend price of $16, plus a $4 surcharge for 3D.
With the unveiling comes a commitment to showing classic films on one of the theater’s giant screens. Hitchcocktober, the chain’s yearly tradition, kicks off on October 15. And starting November 7, kids and their parents can enjoy Flashback Family Films, a retro series that takes place the first Saturday of each month. Special viewing bonus: in January, this reporter will embark on a three-month series of hand-picked favorites, none of which can be found on the AFI’s Top 100.