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Friday, August 05, 2005

Cinema de Lux

I somehow missed this piece when it originally ran last month...

Jenn Abelson of the Boston Globe writes about Cinema de Lux, an initiative to reimagine the movie theater as a high-end hang-out, from National Amusements. (There's also a podcast conversation with Abelson here.)

The lead:

    A baby grand piano greets patrons in the lobby. Ushers lead moviegoers to reserved seats and bring them food. Others sip wine and ''Titanic" cocktails, watch baseball on plasma televisions, and spread out on leather chairs with newspapers.

There's also reserved seating, for an extra $2 on weekdays and $2.50 on weekends.

National Amusements prez Shari Redstone says that all of the chain's new theaters nationwide will be based on the ''Cinema de Lux' concept. National Amusements is the sixth-largest exhibitor in the U.S.

More snippets:

    Over the next year, Showcase Cinemas will add live musical performances and comedy shows to some theaters in Massachusetts. The chain is using high-definition technology to show Red Sox games at some of its theaters, which they turn into faux Fenways with vendors roaming the aisles hawking hot dogs.

Another brilliant idea: more and better food options. If theater owners make the bulk of their money from concessions, why not offer something beyond hot dogs and nachos?

    Expansive offerings range from Starbucks coffee to Sbarro pizza, and moviegoers can eat as they relax in a lounge with free magazines and newspapers or use guest services to book dinner reservations at local restaurants.

It's heartening to think that if the number of movie theaters in the U.S. is going to head south (as I think it will), the quality of the experience may be on the way up.

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