The New Cinelounge Brings Arthouse Cinema, Cushy Seating and Gourmet Snacks to Tiburon

In an effort to bring style back to cinema, owner/creative director Christian Meoli and his wife and creative partner Camilla Jackson revived Tiburon’s former Playhouse, which opened last month as Cinelounge. “We want to be a bridge between home and theater entertainment,” Meoli says. The couple stayed at the Water’s Edge Hotel while attending the Mill Valley Film Festival a few years ago (they lived in Los Angeles at the time), and saw potential in the shuttered building, a chance to recreate the Golden Age of cinema when going to the movies was an experience. “[It’s] film as it was meant to be experienced,” says Meoli, who founded the Arena Cinelounge art house cinema in Los Angeles in 2012.

Tiburon’s Cinelounge and its three theaters are individually designed. Cinema One features 7.1 Dolby digital surround sound and a 30-foot canvas screen onto which a 4K laser projector will broadcast big studio or “tent pole” movies. Step up to our own couch, custom-made in San Jose with 25-inch-wide seats, wide arm rests and high-back seats for extra comfort. Hungry? A lobby concession stand offers an elevated menu of short rib empanadas and arancini balls alongside popcorn with butter or a personalized blend, just for Cinelounge loyalists. Or, order via phone from your seat for delivery during the show. (Instead of that pre-movie request to silence your phones, guests will be asked to set phones to “vibrate” and dim their brightness settings to minimize disruptions.)  

Cinema Two’s big screen with surround sound is slated to show arthouse and documentary films with the same cushy seating arrangement. And the lobby will host a 1980s-era pay phone that anyone can pick up, and a Hollywood director will tell you what to watch.

Meoli plans to host more than just films at Cinelounge. The third theater, Cinema Three or the Lagoon Room (it’s a cool blue color), is a private space, kitted out with Jonathan Adler swivel rockers, cocktail tables and lamps, a CAT-6 cable for high-speed gaming, a cinema-size screen and a bar. The built-in features mean the space is adaptable for low-tech events like poetry readings and happy hours or watching an old film with old friends while enjoying a catered dinner. It’s also adaptable to current entertainment forms — playing arcade golf or strapping on an Oculus Rift to dive into your favorite form of virtual reality. 

It’s entertainment that combines community and cinema with a level of personalization as of yet unseen in Marin. “It’s on-trend with technology and a style, so attractive and cool for consumers,” Meoli says. You may never want to leave.

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Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.