More "luxury" movie theaters, Regal gets bigger

Variety reports another development in the movie theater biz: Village Roadshow Ltd., Act III, Lambert Entertainment and the Retirement Systems of Alabama pension fund have joined up to give the US the new Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas. The $200 million endeavour plans to build 50 "luxury" theaters over the next five years, with the first two in Redmond, Washington, and South Barrington, Illinois — both very wealthy suburbs (of Seattle and Chicago, respectively, of course).

Each location will have around eight screens, each featuring 40 reclining armchairs with footrests and digital projection (with 3D capability). Each location — and this will really be the key in establishing and maintaining the "luxury" image — will also contain a lounge and bar featuring a full menu of cocktails and food (including appetizers and other "theater-friendly" foods like sushi), concierge service, valet parking… and because they serve booze, the theaters will also have an 18/21 age minimum (presumably dependent on local laws).

The ticket price? $35. Not including any food or drinks. That’s just the admission! 

Scoff all you want at the exorbitant ticket price (as AICN does), but this is not the first luxury theater chain: Regal Entertainment, Cinemark, National Amusements and Sundance Cinemas have "similar" luxury theaters, with "high-end food and concierges," albeit at much lower prices ($12–18). At $35, it’s really not about the movies; it’s about the atmosphere. Even if you don’t spend the money on a movie, each location is still basically a bar, and movie theaters always make more money from "concessions" than from ticket sales.

Yet if were a multi-millionaire, I would consider $35 for a comfortable seat, decent food, booze, and a lack of cell-phone slinging assholes — depending on the movie, of course. But the question is how many millionaire cinephiles are there, it’s… just how badly do the rich want to be isolate themselves from the poor? And we already know the answer to this: a lot.

However this pans out, I highly doubt that any of these luxury movie theaters will look like this.

Earlier this week, Regal announced that it will be adding 31 more IMAX screens to its roster, doubling its current stake in the big big screen by 2010. (Within the same time frame, "Regal will have 52 IMAX theaters (and) IMAX will have more than 300 running worldwide.")

The article also mentions that IMAX is "upping the number of studio pics it releases on its screens in the 2-D and 3-D formats. Its digital projection system will enable it to unspool up to 12 pics per year vs. the six it now plays annually."

Related posts: Around the Web: A new business model for movie theaters, an indie movie glut, more (updated), 2007 box office breaks a record, ticket sales flat; Monsters vs. Aliens to be first true 3D animated film (updated)


Posted on March 26, 2008 at 10:57 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: Around the Intertubes, News · Tagged with: , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Written by Caolan
    on 2008-03-26 at 12:04

    You know, some part of me would be willing to put out that kind of money, but only on really special occasions. Like Dark Knight or something. But even then, it’s still more than a little absurd and unnecessary. I wouldn’t mind working at one, though…

  2. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-03-26 at 15:01

    A little absurd and unnecessary, absolutely, but so are $300,000 cars. This is clearly for the very rich, not regular Joes. But… if it does well, we’ll undoubtedly see more mid-range places with at least some of these amenities.

    The only one I really care about? BOOZE. I want to be able to drink booze in the movie theater! Legally! And not at a second-run with a thousand screaming fratboys.

  3. Written by Pete
    on 2008-03-26 at 18:05

    I would totally give this a go. As Caolan mentioned, though, it would be special occasions.

    Besides, give it about 5 more years and all theaters will be close to $35 to get in anyway.

  4. Written by Caolan
    on 2008-03-27 at 05:32

    Those seats look really comfy. I thought I’d share that.

    I think that alcohol would only work in certain theaters, like arthouses and stuff. But that kind of sucks, because with a lot of mainstream movies it would be nice to have some hooch.

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