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AMC's "Fork & Screen" In-Theater Dining Experience Gets Reviewed by Movie and Food Critics

Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 12:26 PM

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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.

Photo courtesy of AMC EntertainmentAMC 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:

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?

Share your thoughts by leaving your comments below!

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Please Note: These comments are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Jan 4, 2011 - BigScreen Reader  

I've gone to a theater where there was in-theater dining, and the trickiest part is seeing your food decently. If you have a pulled-pork sandwich, you're going to end up wearing some of it because you didn't realize that it was coming out the other side of the bun! :)

None of the theaters I've visited have the hospital-style trays like are shown in the photos in that article. They have been small side trays that didn't extend over your lap so you didn't feel like you were bellying up to the trough, like that photo appears to show. 

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