Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas looks for a buyer

Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas is putting itself up for sale.

Sundance Cinemas said in a statement that it has hired the investment bank Salem Partners to find a buyer for the small L.A.-based theater chain.

Sundance Cinemas is part of several entities overseen by Redford, including the Sundance Channel and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

The celebrated actor, producer and director also is part-owner in Sundance Cinemas but is no longer an executive in the company.

Executives declined to specify the reasons for the planned sale, but a person close to the company said private equity backers were looking to cash out their investment. Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management is the primary investor in Sundance.

Other larger circuits have been testing the waters at a time when theaters are grappling with long-term declines in attendance and rising competition from entertainment in the home.

Carmike Cinemas, the nation's fourth largest theater chain, has reportedly hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to evaluate its options, including a possible sale. Regal Entertainment Group, which operates the nation's largest theater chain, last year also hired JPMorgan to consider strategic options, including a sale. In January, however, the chain said it had withdrawn those plans.

Sundance Cinemas said the company enjoyed its fifth consecutive year of revenue and cash flow growth.

The chain was launched in 2005 and operates five high-end theaters mainly devoted to independent movies, including the 630-seat Sunset Sundance Cinema in West Hollywood that opened in 2012. The company also has theaters in Madison, Wis., San Francisco, Houston and Seattle.

Redford's company invested $2 million renovating the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood.

The renovation included rebuilding the theater, installing new digital projectors, a sound system and extra-wide stadium seats with small side tables, and also a bistro and beer and wine bar. The theater also has a lounge and outdoor patio and offers reserved seating and commercial-free screenings.

“From the very beginning, Sundance Cinemas has been about raising the bar in the exhibition business,” Chief Executive Paul Richardson said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Salem Partners to identify the right owner or owners of the business who can continue to capitalize on our prominent positions in each market.”

Twitter: @rverrier

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
57°