In addition to state-of-the-art screens and sound systems that were part of the $11million in renovations, the existing auditoriums have been converted to the company’s “black box” format. “It’s all about not getting in the way of the way the filmmaker wants you to see the movie,” said Amy Wood, ArcLight’s vice president of marketing and food and beverage. “We spent a lot of time on the sound and on the design, down to the smallest detail of putting our popcorn in tubs, not in bags, so it doesn’t crinkle.” “To me, going to the movies these days is filled with so many hassles,” added Chris Forman, chairman and CEO of Pacific Theatres. “We’re removing those hassles and creating an atmosphere of care and respect.” Customers on Friday seemed to agree. Sherman Oaks resident Levi Oppenheim noted the full bar in the cinema’s spacious, atrium-like lobby. “I’m excited to have a movie theater bar,” he said. “If the movie’s no good, you can have a few drinks and maybe it’ll get better.” Studio City’s Larry King, who was checking out the scene before buying tickets for “Beowulf,” pronounced the new theater “awesome,” adding that with wide armrests, “you don’t accidentally elbow the person sitting next to you – unless you want to.” As for ArcLight amenities, like good, strong coffee, imported chocolates and Newcastle ale on tap, “It doesn’t make the movie better, but it just makes the whole evening more fun,” King said. What you should know TICKETS: ArcLight-goers will pay a premium for these extras. Carrying a top weekend ticket price of $12.75, the ASO eclipses the $10.75 top price that the Galleria 16 offered. The third-floor entrance leads past an information stand to a ticket-purchasing area and the massive “departure board” listing film times. That’s for the customers who don’t pre-order their seats online. All of the seats are numbered and reserved, eliminating the need for lines. NEW ADDITIONS: They include a coffee bar, restaurant and bar. Guests can peruse the gift shop, study the costume exhibition or grab a bite and stare out over the 405-101 freeway interchange. SHOWTIME: ArcLight maintains a no-late-seating policy. If you arrive more than five minutes after the feature film has started – which, because there is no advertising and a limited number of coming attraction trailers, begins five minutes after the posted start time – you’re not getting in. And don’t even think about taking a cell-phone call or sending a text message once the lights have gone down. According to Wood, ArcLight guests police the theater-decorum policies as vigilantly as the paid staff. WHAT’S PLAYING: The theater expects to show a mixture of first-run blockbusters, limited-release films and art-house fare as well as special screenings in connection with the American Film Institute. Where programming is concerned, the ASO will have more leeway and fewer restrictions than its Hollywood counterpart. Since the Hollywood ArcLight is in close proximity to the El Capitan Theatre and the Mann’s Chinese, those three theaters avoid certain first-run overlap. Disney’s “Enchanted” and the Will Smith film “I am Legend,” for example, will both open at the ArcLight Sherman Oaks, but will not play at the ArcLight Hollywood. SPECIAL EVENTS: Tonight, director Todd Haynes will answer questions about his film “I’m Not There” following a 7:30 p.m. screening. Tickets are $11-$12.75. The American Film Institute will present “AFI 100: Some Like It Hot” on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $10-$11.50. Paul Schrader will answer questions about his film “The Walker” following a 7:30 p.m. screening Nov. 29. Tickets: $10-$11.50. The AFI 100 series continues Tuesdays with “High Noon” on Dec. 4, and “Sunset Boulevard” on Dec. 17. Beginning Jan. 17, the theater will launch AFI at ArcLight 100 years … 100 Movies screening every Monday through the end of September. For information on these and upcoming events, go to www.arclightcinemas.com. PARKING: In the Sherman Oaks Galleria parking lot (entrances on Camarillo Street and Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards), it is free for four hours with theater validation. Valet parking is available as well. Staff Writer Fred Shuster contributed to this story.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre It’ll cost a bit more, but no lines – seats are reserved. “The thing we love is you can book your seats in advance,” said Beverly Biggerstaff, who drove to the ArcLight in Sherman Oaks from Brentwood to see “No Country for Old Men” on the theater’s opening day. “We’re thrilled because standing in line for an hour to buy a ticket for a seat that’s not even that good is ridiculous.” Biggerstaff and her husband, John, have been coming to the Galleria for films for 20 years. “This makes the experience so much better,” she said. Christian Gaines, director of festivals for the American Film Institute, which runs regular screenings of new and classic films at the venue, said he believes the ArcLight has “pioneered a new paradigm in moviegoing, which is guaranteeing a good experience.” Convinced that the Valley is as much a hub of upscale moviegoing as the heart of Tinseltown, Pacific Theatres on Friday opened its second ArcLight Cinemas, a luxurious 16-screen complex at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. It’s a place where a cin aste might have a martini – shaken or stirred – and be shaken or stirred during a “21 Plus” screening, or catch a Q&A session with a top director. (Tonight it’s Todd Haynes talking about his Bob Dylan bio, “I’m Not There.”) Friday’s “soft opening” of five of the screens was a precursor to the ArcLight Sherman Oaks’ (ASO) official grand opening Dec. 14. This second ArcLight follows the same format as the company’s nearly six-year-old theater in Hollywood and contains many of the same frills and amenities, ranging from ease of ticketing purchase to wider seats, bigger armrests, no on-screen advertising and upscale food and drink.