AMC Expands Reserved Seating, Continuing Premium Push

Adds "mixed reviews" for reserved seating in Sept 3 Wall St Journal article
By Robert Marich
   Sept. 2, 2016-AMC Theatres is expanding reserved seating to all its Manhattan cinemas, indicating exhibition's dive into premium experience continues. Reserved seating applies to online purchases, so will spur a boost in transaction fees. Also, the reserved seating creates a sports arena or live concert vibe for moviegoers.
   “The feature has been typically reserved for more upscale, renovated theaters, which often include recliner seats, as well as IMAX or
Movie theaters add amenities like reserved seating to give a premium vibe

Dolby Cinema screens,” says a Hollywood Reporter story by Maureen Lee Lenker. “While AMC offers reserved seating in approximately one-third of their locations nationwide, this marks the first major city where all AMC theaters have converted to a reserved option.”
   A Wall Street Journal article says that moviegoers gave "mixed reviews" to reserved seating, as it is introduced. "Although the new feature will give New Yorkers who buy online peace of mind that they will get a seat, there is also the potential it will slow down lines at the box office," says the article by Joseph De Avila. "Tickets purchased in-person now require the extra step of selecting a seat from the ticket seller’s screen."
   The third edition of book Marketing To Moviegoers notes movie theater increasingly push luxury and amenities such as sofa-like seating, motion-sensation seats, big screens, high-quality image projection, and in-theater dining with hot meals to create a premium price environment. I have my doubts that moviegoers will equate the experience to a live event, and movie theaters operators would do better to hold down ticket and other prices. The cable TV industry is finding pricing blowback, as consumers begin to “cut the cord” from cable TV subscriptions that have ballooned to $70/month for basic channels.
   “The investment community is of two minds about whether the broad exhibition industry will thrive in the future,” says Marketing To Moviegoers. “Some analysts suggest exhibition will be a low- or no-profit business because its infrastructure needs constant refurbishing, major studios hold the upper hand in negotiating film rentals paid by theaters, and—despite recent building restraint—plenty of screens still are available across North America.”
   AMC is the nationa's second largest cinema circuit after Regal. AMC has theaters in 386 locations with 5,334 screens, mostly in the U.S.
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