AMC hopes chance to recline will make folks movie inclined

[Originally Published in the Broomfield Enterprise, August 8, 2013]

The AMC Flatiron Crossing 14 cinema at FlatIron Crossing mall recently completed an interior renovation that the company heralds as the “future of moviegoing.” Between March and July, while operations continued, AMC steadily upgraded the 13-year-old facility from front to back.

The new Flatirons 14 is the first of its kind in Colorado, and the 20th to be renovated nationwide. AMC is carrying out similar upgrades to its Bowles Crossing 12 theater in Littleton.

The multi-million dollar remodeling, which was unveiled to the media on Thursday, includes fresh paint and carpet and state-of-the-art upgrades to screens, speakers and projectors. All improvements were “done with the guest in mind,” said AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan.

KICKING BACK: AMC Theaters shows off the new recliners that were installed as part of the multi-million dollar upgrade to the AMC Flatiron Crossing. The theater also now boasts a bar and an expanded concessions menu. The remodeling was unveiled in a media event on Thursday. (David R. Jennings / Broomfield Enterprise)

KICKING BACK: AMC Theaters shows off the new recliners that were installed as part of the multi-million dollar upgrade to the AMC Flatiron Crossing. The theater also now boasts a bar and an expanded concessions menu. The remodeling was unveiled in a media event on Thursday. (David R. Jennings / Broomfield Enterprise)

The most notable change is the replacement of the traditional auditorium-style seating with plush La-Z-Boy type recliners that extend nearly horizontally, and include wide armrests and cup holders. While the seats themselves are an undisputed improvement, the obvious downside is the new recliners significantly reduce seating capacity. Depending on the theater, seat numbers were decreased by 50 to 70 percent.

To manage the limited seating, the theater instituted reserved seating. While few seats means more competition, Noonan said response by and large has been “phenomenal” with a noticeable increase in attendance.

Another major addition is the inclusion of a full bar, named MacGuffins after the plot device coined by Alfred Hitchcock. Parents now have the option of dropping their kids off at “Despicable Me 2” while they hang back, enjoy a drink and watch TV at the bar.

The bar includes beer, wine and cocktails. A tall draft beer costs around $9, which Noonan said is competitively priced with surrounding establishments, and, given the reputation of movie theater drink and food prices, is not all that shocking. While anyone older than 21 can walk in and enjoy the bar, there is a two drink limit.

Normal concessions also were upgraded with an expanded menu that includes hot offerings such as pizza and chicken tenders, as well healthy options such as pita and hummus. Coke’s popular Freestyle machines also were installed, which have the ability to vend more than 120 soft drinks, with specific flavors like Peach Sprite and Caffeine-Free Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke.

Theater employee Chris Stoner said the most popular improvements are the seats and the bar. Stoner said while first-time visitors are sometimes confused by the reserved seating, they are ultimately happy to know where they will sit before they enter the theater.

“With the new chairs, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house,” Stoner said.

Arvada resident Chuck Savoy said, “After my wife had knee surgery this was the first place she could go to see a movie, because of the reclining seats.”

Savoy said his only complaint is the how the limited seating requires buying tickets ahead of time, but it will not deter him from going out of his way to visit the theater.



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