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The movie and food critics from New Jersey's The Star Ledger weigh in on their experiences with AMC's new "Fork & Screen" in-theater dining service. Their reviews, which were published on December 17, 2010, share their opinions of the concept from the perspective of a movie critic and from that of a food critic, which is completely fair, considering AMC's offering is combining watching a movie with having more to eat than just your standard popcorn or Junior Mints.
AMC recently debuted "Fork & Screen" offerings at three theaters in New Jersey. The AMC Essex Green Cinema in West Orange and AMC Bridgewater Commons in Bridgewater became available in mid-November, and the AMC Loews Menlo Park 12 is a completely new location in Edison that opened in mid-December. AMC's web site presents "Fork & Screen" as follows:
Enjoy your favorite foods and cocktails paired with great movies in an immersive big-screen theatre. Fork & Screen® features casual dining and seat-side service, with reserved seating available at some locations.
The menu includes a variety of delicious and affordable starters, entrees, desserts, beer, wine and cocktails as well as traditional theatre concessions like popcorn and candy.
Guests must be 18 or older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 or older. There is an "experience charge" of $10-15 for all "Fork & Screen" presentations, which is applied to your food and beverage purchase.
Movie critic Stephen Whitty appreciated the upgrades that were done to the AMC Essex Green Cinema, but he didn't care for the distractions caused by the wait staff (even though he mentioned they were very courteous) and the patrons, who seemed to talk more and louder than usual. He also lamented the loss of being able to discuss the movie later over drinks or dinner:
In fact, the concept seems about as connected to motion pictures as dinner-theater is to drama. What’s wrong, after all, with giving a movie our full attention, and then going out afterward, to talk about it over coffee or a burger at the diner? Isn’t that part of the "experience" too?
To read his full review, read AMC Fork & Screen review: A film critic's take on nj.com
Food critic Teresa Politano checked out the food options available and while she liked the idea of getting some alternative food choices, like cupcakes, handmade potato chips, and caramel corn, the "fine dining" menu choices were not to her liking:
Plus there’s the fact that a real dinner should not be eaten in the dark, and that you can’t really call it an upscale experience if you’re eating on a swivel tray. And another point: A true upscale restaurant would know that white zinfandel and zinfandel are not the same.
You can read her comments about sampling the Crab Rangoon Dip, and others in her full review, AMC Fork & Screen review: A food critic's take, on nj.com
Both of them commented about how close the experience felt to the scenes from WALL-E, where overweight people of the future move around and eat and drink without ever leaving their reclining lounge chair. The photos included at the top of both reviews featuring guests with their feet up in puffy leather recliners and swivel trays in front of them full of food certainly evoke unpleasant reactions.
AMC's "Fork & Screen" in-theater dining is now available at six locations around the country:
- AMC Fork & Screen Buckhead - Buckhead, Georgia (Atlanta)
- AMC Grapevine Mills 30 - Grapevine, Texas (Dallas)
- AMC Studio 30 - Olathe, Kansas (Kansas City)
- AMC Essex Green Cinema - West Orange, New Jersey
- AMC Bridgewater Commons - Bridgewater, New Jersey
- AMC Loews Menlo Park 12 - Edison, New Jersey
What's Your Take on In-Theater Dining Options?
What do you think? Do you like the idea of getting a full meal while watching a movie, or is this just crossing the line and inviting people to behave like they're kicking back in their Barco-lounger at home with the TV tray filled with goodies from the fridge?
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