Friday, December 7, 2012

The Last Supper for Cinema

The Lounge at Odeon Whiteleys
In the home theater world, there is a lot of talk about the impact of big screen home TV on the traditional cinema experience.  The advent and arrival of this new medium about 5-7 years ago - at least at a price that makes it attainable to everyone - has had a significant impact on the traditional theater business.

Most people love the experience that comes with a night out at the movies, but do they want to sacrifice the comfort of home with a comparable technical experience?  Times are changing and now, more than ever, the pressure is on the traditional theater business to evolve and compete with this formidable new challenger.  

As avid theater afficiandos, we follow the industry news and are seeing more and more of a premium cinema experience moving into the traditional theater business.  Behemoths in the space like AMC, Celebration Cinemas and Odeon (in the UK) are evolving with the times and testing the concept of bringing the living room into the movie theater.  Now the game is on!! 

AMC have renovated a theater they operate and own in Marina Del Rey and introduced 50% less of the traditional theater style rockers and replaced them with home-style theater loungers.  They are calling the concept the CinemaSuite.  This renovation has cost $5 million and includes a widening of the isle space to accommodate the fully reclined new theater chairs.  The trend has just taken hold here in the US but is also in full motion in Europe and is successfully operated by Odeon - the UK's largest cinema chain - in a number of their theaters in London.

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CinemaSuites Bar
They did not just stop there.  One can also enjoy a meal in your new luxury theater seating - served on a removable tray table.  Why is this so exciting to the movie theater industry?  The answer is simple, they get to capitalize on the business they lose when people finish the movie and head out to grab a bite to eat.  Food and drinks have always been where the margin is - now they have the ability to expand on that.

Prices for these seats excluding food is currently 30% higher than a standard movie ticket price.  Some cinema operators embracing this concept elsewhere in the country are charging more but including popcorn and the ability to push a button and call the wait staff.  Did we mention that some cinemas even have a bar?  This is the 11th theater that features a dinner experience for AMC and the future looks bright!

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