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AMC to put in more recliners, cutting number of seats in theaters

By Daniel S Levine,

Have you ever wanted to put your feet up and lean back to enjoy a movie like Transformers or Godzilla while seeing one on the biggest possible screen? While that is already a reality in some cities, AMC is hoping to expand that experience across the country.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the second-largest theater chain in the country, is hoping to bring reclining, La-Z-Boy-style seats at 1,800 theaters, which would actually mean less seats in the theaters. According to The Wall Street Journal, the renovations would cost $350,000 to $500,000 for each theater and some of that cost may go to the landlords. Overall, the project will include spending $600 million over five years.

This may sound like a bizarre proposal for Hollywood, since it would mean less seats in theaters. But previous renovations have yielded success. Attendance at renovated AMC locations spiked 80 percent, even though some theaters included as little as 70 seats. AMC Chief Executive Gerry Lopez says that the idea is to emphasize quality of the theater-going experience over the quantity - or size of the audience.

Of course, this plan comes as the movies are facing another, 1950s-style challenge with Netflix and other streaming services becoming cheaper and more common ways to see movies. Like the studios and theater owners that preceded them in history, today’s executives are trying similar techniques. Movies stayed alive back then, so they have to hope it will work again.

This is the first big renovation push for AMC since China’s Wanda Group bought the company in May 2012. The company also recently went public in December.

image of Michael Bay courtesy of Roger Wong/INFphoto.com

 
 

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