.The Big Picture: Camilla Jackson Meoli’s Vision for Cinelounge Tiburon

When addressing her fading star in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard, character Norman Desmond famously observed, “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Perhaps Desmond was referencing the shrinking budgets of her films, or the encroachment of smaller television screens of the era. But she could never have anticipated “streaming” movies and, indeed, how small a screen can get.

Keeping the pictures “big” is Camilla Jackson Meoli, creative director at Cinelounge Tiburon.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Meoli’s innovative approach to programming at the triplex cinema, which showcases both studio hits and arthouse fare, is a testament to her belief in the enduring power of cinema.

“I think that cinema is going to evolve, and the experience of going to the theater needs to be slightly reinvented,” she says.

This reinvention goes beyond just watching a movie—it’s about creating an event. In fact, the term “eventizing” is seldom far from the lips of exhibitors these days.

Sometimes eventizing is an audience-driven phenomenon (think last year’s “Barbenheimer” craze or the preceding “Gentle Minions,” which found young men attending the latest Minions film dressed in formal attire). Other times, the eventizing comes courtesy of the exhibitors who are experimenting with what drives attendance.

“The experience needs to be more than simply just going in and watching a movie with other people,” says Meoli, who baked the premise into the DNA of both Cinelounge Tiburon and a Los Angeles-based sibling theater. Each embodies a year-round film festival spirit, blending art house offerings with mainstream appeal—and expanding what it means to “go to the movies.”

To that end, Cinelounge Tiburon is the only first-run three-screen movie theater and performance venue in Marin that serves beer and wine and offers a menu of locally sourced organic food items. Joining the fray is Tony Gemignani, the owner and originator of Tony’s Pizza, Tony’s of North Beach SF and over 20 other restaurant concepts (he literally wrote The Pizza Bible). Gemignani’s pizzas use locally sourced ingredients and are now among the offerings of Cinelounge Tiburon.

At Cinelounge, it’s not just about the films but the shared experience they foster. Says Meoli, “If you’ve got a great community, which we do, I think you can give them a little bit of a nibble, and they will come.”

Meoli curated a recent series of screenings called “Morning Movie Club,” which combined coffee, an eclectic selection of films and in-depth discussions with their stars and filmmakers. It proved a success. Looking ahead, she is excited about expanding Cinelounge’s regular offerings to include live music in their “Lagoon Room,” which will juxtapose the performance with an onscreen experience.

Throughout, the creative energy of Meoli and her husband fuels this endeavor. “I think it’s because my husband, Christian, and I are both very creative, and it’s not enough for us to just show a movie. We get high on going back and forth with ideas. And the crazier, the better. And if it’s crazy, you know what? We’ll try it. If it doesn’t work, so what? You try something else. It’s just us and who we are,” she says.

That “something else” will also include the creative couple producing their own movies, with Meoli at the helm as director. Production of their first film begins this fall, and presumably, it will eventually be “coming soon to a theater near you”—in Tiburon.

Cinelounge Tiburon, located at 40 Main St., Tiburon. 415.797.6976. cineloungefilm.com.

Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the feature filmsPill Head and the upcoming Werewolf Serenade. Learn more at dhowell.com.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Amazing article!!! I love Camilla and Christians beautiful cinema. It is really a community epicenter, and they are doing an incredible job!

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  2. I tried buying a ticket at the Los Angeles theater for me and partner, and the website was pretty confusing. It looked like I was buying it for the LA theater but it may have actually been for the Tiburon theater. I tried going down to the LA theater but it wasn’t even open. And on a Friday night too. I tried calling too but no one was there. The tickets were $40 plus an online fee, and we couldn’t get a refund because no one was around and we had no idea who to talk to. It looks like they sometimes play stuff but really cheap stuff that no one would ever bother seeing. And that doesn’t seem to be very often either. Almost convinced this isn’t a real business. If it is, they should try keeping their other location open, maybe play something good in order to have people “go to the movies”. Because I “went to the movies” and got scammed out of $40.

    • Please sign me up for the newsletter - Yes
  3. I tried buying a ticket at the Los Angeles theater for me and partner, and the website was pretty confusing. It looked like I was buying it for the LA theater but it may have actually been for the Tiburon theater. I tried going down to the LA theater but it wasn’t even open. And on a Friday night too. I tried calling too but no one was there. The tickets were $40 plus an online fee, and we couldn’t get a refund because no one was around and we had no idea who to talk to. It looks like they sometimes play stuff but really cheap stuff that no one would ever bother seeing. And that doesn’t seem to be very often either. Almost convinced this isn’t a real business. If it is, they should try keeping their other location open, maybe play something good in order to have people “go to the movies”. Because I “went to the movies” and only got scammed out of $40.

    • Please sign me up for the newsletter - No

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