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Moviegoers Treated to Luxury Touches... at Select Theaters

August 19, 2005

It appears that some movie theaters are recognizing that not everyone likes to be treated like cattle when they go to the movies, and that the movie-going experience is as important, if not more so, than the movie they are coming to see. This is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts at The BigScreen Cinema Guide, since we think that going to the movies is all about the experience. After all, if it's only about the movie, we can just wait four months and today's blockbuster is tomorrow's rental and the $15 special in the Sunday sale ads.

The New York Times published a story in their August 17th issue about some movie theaters that are tailoring their service to adults that want to enjoy the entire movie-going experience, complete with valet parking, a choice of fine appetizers and concessions, reserved seating, a glass of wine, and more.

As you would expect, this comes at a price. Double the going rate for a movie ticket, to be exact, but that includes the valet parking and free popcorn. The higher price also reduces the chance that you'll have your movie interrupted by someone on their cellphone or a group of obnoxious people making noise.

Some theater chains tried this approach a few years ago with what they called "Premium Cinemas" that offered full meals, reserved seating, and other nice touches. Unfortunately, the industry went through a major consolidation and realignment at about the same time, and many chains abandoned the concept.

At a time when sagging box office are in the headlines and ticket sales are decreasing (even when revenue is increasing, due to higher ticket prices), we believe that the time is right for theaters to take a renewed interest in what will attract paying audiences, and keep them coming back. While serving wine and shrimp cocktails and having reserved seating may not work for every market, looking at the experience from the viewpoint of the customer is never a bad thing.

The article also talks about the Muvico chain of theaters, which has locations in Florida, Tennessee, and Maryland, and their approach to making going to the movies fun again. We can attest to the positive impression of Muvico from a visit to the Pointe 21 in Orlando, Florida a couple of years ago. Seeing that theater made us wish that more theaters across the country cared about what their lobbies and auditoriums looked like and realized how much that contributes to the general impression their customers are left with when the night is over.

You can read the article by Bruce Weber via The New York Times:
  Liked the Movie, Loved the Megaplex

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