A Los Angeles movie theater operator will take over the Tiburon Playhouse, the movie theater that closed during the pandemic.
The three-screen theater at 40 Main St. will be directed by Cinelounge’s Christian Meoli. Meoli said he hopes to forge a refined, updated and curated theatrical experience for a new generation of moviegoers. He plans to baptize the theater “Cinelounge Tiburon”.
Meoli said he was a “stalwart believer in the theatrical experience” and an avid film curator. He said he hopes the Tiburon location will serve as a “flagship model” for what he hopes to replicate elsewhere in the Bay Area. This includes outdoor events, food and movie pairings, luxury seating, and a renewed focus on comfort and cleanliness. Cinelounge will also offer beer and wine.
“It’s what I would consider a cutting-edge arthouse initiative,” he said. “We are early adopters of new technologies and we strive to offer the best to our audience. It’s the best sound, the best experience, the best picture, the best screens, the best seats.
Meoli hopes to open in late May or early June. He plans to move to Tiburon with his family to run the theater.
“We want to be able to get active before the big Tiburon summer season and be part of it,” he said. “We were looking to have a presence in the SF market and we are so excited for this to happen in Tiburon.”
The Tiburon Playhouse was considered a cornerstone of the downtown scene for more than 60 years before its closure was announced in March 2020. Cinema West Inc. owner David Corkill owned the theater for 30 years.
The building is owned by real estate investment firm ACV Argo Tiburon, a joint venture between Corte Madera-based Argonaut Investments LLC and A&C Ventures Inc. in Sonoma.
The Cinelounge model has been adapted for boutique theaters and Hollywood independent films and has proven to be “an excellent choice” for owners, Meoli said.
“It’s a movie destination for the Bay Area at a time when beloved theaters in SF and Berkeley and different counties have disappeared,” he said.
Theaters have been considered one of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic due to social distancing and capacity needs.
DeAnn Biss, executive director of the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said the theater’s closure was “devastating” for many in the community. Its reopening marked a budding revival of the peninsula’s economic vitality, she said.
“It really complements what we have to offer visitors to our community,” she said. “When you see our businesses being able to promote and elevate each other, that translates to an incredibly vibrant downtown.”
Meoli said he first came to Marin because Cinelounge was one of the sponsors of the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2021. When he stayed at the Waters Edge Hotel in Tiburon, he strolled near the theater closed and was shocked to see “the most magnificent, amazing place for a cinema.”
“I immediately fell in love with it,” he said. “For most of my life I have always heard of Tiburon and it was a place I wanted to visit and experience.”
Meoli has distinguished itself for owning wholesome concessions and a gourmet line of popcorn geared toward a luxury cinematic experience. Meoli called the food menu “from farm to screen”.
“Don’t expect pretzel bites and nachos in our Cinelounge. We will offer fresh and local small plates,” he said. “It’s not a Cinemark with six screens. It’s an experience before you even walk through the door.