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AMC Plans Lots Of Reclining Cinema Chairs

By Garth Franklin Tuesday July 8th 2014 10:14AM

What has been the domain of pricey premium ticket experiences, like Event Cinemas and Regent Cinemas' 'Gold Class' screenings in recent years, may now be coming to the masses at a more affordable price.

AMC Entertainment Holdings has announced a $600 million major remodelling plan to bring fully reclining "La-Z-Boy-type seats" in 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 cinema auditoriums in the United States over the next five years. The result will be up to two-thirds fewer seats per auditorium, but the aim is to improve the quality of the overall experience to bring back customers more often.

The thing is, it's working. In areas where renovations have already begun, attendance in these venues has reportedly already increased by 80% on average despite the reduction in capacity. Box-office revenue was also up more than 60% at the 37 AMC theaters that had been fully reseated in the first quarter of this year .

The renovations considerably help increase both midweek session attendance, and the number of adults attending those cinemas, as has the offering of full dine-in capabilities at some of these cinemas. Renovations are also expected to carry on to the amenities as the customers at these kind of cinemas "wouldn't tolerate subpar bathrooms or lobbies" says AMC Chief Executive Gerry Lopez.

Another point of difference though is that it's not the privileged who'll be getting this first as the conversions are occurring only in places where the chain is struggling to attract customers. As a result the busiest venues in major markets like Los Angeles or New York won't be a part of this 'first wave' of conversions.

A 'second wave' is planned at better-performing theaters but in those the chairs don't recline as far - so only half the auditorium's seating capacity is lost as opposed to about two-thirds.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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