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IPic Entertainment Buys Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010 2:45 PM

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This news escaped our view when it happened, but better late than never, right? In September, Village Roadshow Ltd. announced that Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas LLC. sold its Gold Class Cinemas to IPic Entertainment. A new company has been formed, IPic-Gold Class Entertainment LLC, which appears to be the parent to all the Gold Class Cinemas and IPic Entertainment locations in the United States.

According to a press release issued on September 20, 2010 by Village Roadshow Limited in Australia, the financial performance of Gold Class USA "has been disappointing from the outset" and that IPic Entertainment will reconfigure existing Gold Class Cinemas to add more seats and reduce prices.

I visited the Gold Class Cinemas - South Barrington in South Barrington, Illinois in May 2009, and found the experience to be akin to flying first-class. The seating was comfortable, the food was very good, but the prices were higher than I would imagine a large number of people are willing to pay for a movie. Their current pricing for an adult evening ticket is $25, which seems cheaper than I remember paying when I visited, but still high.

In May 2008, I visited the IPic Theatres at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wisconsin. In my Reader Comments about the theater, I noted that the seats were a little too far away and a little too low for the positioning of the screen in the theater we were in. Changes may have been made since then, but I have not returned to the theater to find out.

It would seem that there might be a middle ground for the new Gold Class Cinemas to strike between what they were doing, and what other chains are doing with their upscale "VIP" movie experiences. The IPic location in Wisconsin has an adult evening price of $16 for VIP seating, and I would imagine that it is this model that the company will be using going forward. A few miles North, the Marcus North Shore Cinemas in Mequon has VIP seating in their large UltraScreen auditorium, and they charge $16, which includes a $5.50 voucher for food and drinks. The Marcus offering is reserved seating with larger chairs and seatside service, but not to the same level as what I've seen in the IPic and Gold Class locations.

The September press release also mentioned that the new company plans to pursue opening new locations with the new configuration over the next 3-5 years. The first of those is the IPic Theaters at Scottsdale Quarter in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is scheduled to open on December 17, 2010.

Source: Village Roadshow Limited Press Release

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