4500 Ninth Ave. N.E., 633-0059, sundancecinemas.com
Outside the city, new multiplexes rise amid seas of concrete, preferably located near a freeway off-ramp. But in congested Seattle, where the old single-screen movie palaces are too large and inefficient to run profitably (see the Neptune and the Egyptian’s sad demise), the trick is to repurpose an existing structure. That’s what Sundance Cinemas has done with the old Metro, which hadn’t seen much upkeep since opening in its charmless U District home back in 1989. The Metro’s parent company, Landmark Theatres, had been unsuccessfully trying to sell the small national chain; then Sundance assumed the lease last year and completed renovations last month. It’s still a 10-plex, but all the theaters have been renovated with less and nicer seating, better sight lines, and so forth. Better still, Sundance serves real food and booze (!); it’s now a 21-and-over establishment, so say farewell to rowdy, texting teens and crying children. Prices are higher, with a sliding-scale “amenity fee,” but you can reserve seats online and take your drinks into the theater. It’s almost like flying Virgin Atlantic, only without the annoying TSA pat-downs.