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Movie Theaters Turning to Amenities, Adult Beverages to Attract Audiences and Increase Profits

Posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2008 7:12 PM and updated on Friday, March 28th, 2008 10:09 AM

More and more, I've been seeing stories about movie theaters turning to amenities geared mostly to adults to attract more audiences and in the end, increase profits.

Many years ago, I attended one of GCC's Premium Cinemas, where they had a sit-down restaurant next to a private theater with leather reserved seating. The food was good and the seating was fantastic, but the total price was a little high and the concept was so new, I don't think it caught on. A couple of years later, the concept was abandoned and the restaurant was closed and the theater absorbed into the rest of the screens.

Perhaps the idea was just ahead of its time, because more and more theaters are embracing the idea once again. Just this week, Variety and USA Today featured articles on the options that theaters are trying to get people to walk in their doors.

The USA Today article focused on the efforts to bring alcoholic beverage service to movie theaters and the success they're having getting the necessary permits and licenses from their municipalities.

The Variety article covered the news that Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas will be coming to the U.S. The partners involved in the effort plan to build 50 theaters nationwide over the next five years, with the first locations set for the Chicago suburb of South Barrington, Illinois and the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington.

Each theater will be equipped with 40 reclining armchairs with footrests, digital cinema projection, and a lounge and bar, with concierge service and valet parking. What would you expect to pay for such amenities? If you answered $35 per ticket, you'd be right!

Reuters has a story about the Village Roadshow concept, and they have a photo of people enjoying themselves, presumably in a theater like what is being planned. I question whether going to a movie justifies dressing up in a cocktail dress, but perhaps they are seeing The Metropolitan Opera and wanted to dress like they were attending the event live.

Time will tell if audiences are willing to pay higher prices for the upscale treatment, but you can be sure you won't have teenagers texting their friends in the seat next to you at those prices!

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