Movie Theater

In the United States, a trip to most movie theaters requires planning ahead in order to grab a good seat. Arrive early enough, and you'll have your pick of where you want to plop yourself down for the next two hours. Arrive too late, and you'll be stuck in the very from craning your neck upwards to see the screen, and that's assuming the movie isn't sold out by that point. Fortunately for folks in the Manhattan, New York area, this won't be a problem much longer, as AMC is making a big change to its theaters in that area.

As reported by Deadline, AMC Theaters will start providing customers the option of reserving seats ahead of time in Manhattan starting on September 2. This is the first major market where the company has assigned seating in nearly all of its theaters. They do already have the same system set up in 125 locations elsewhere in the United States, but those theaters are usually of the "premium" variety, i.e. have plush seating and charge higher ticket prices. This is one of several plans to boost sales, which also includes an app that allows patrons to reserve food and have it delivered to their seats. Comments from U.S. Operations EVP John McDonald also suggest that Manhattan is just the start to AMC rolling out reserve seating in regular theaters at other big markets.

Reserve seating is a luxury that people in the U.S. usually associate with going to a play or sports events, but it actually is much more common in other countries around the world. Now AMC is looking to make it more common in their theaters by using Manhattan as a launching ground. Assuming it's successful, one wonders if competitors like Regal Cinemas will follow suit.

There are certainly pros and cons to the reserve seating approach. On the one hand, this means you won't have to show up extra early to see a movie, allowing more time to spend marveling at the newly-increased concession prices. On the other hand, reserve seating is a lot less flexible. Say you pay for your spot ahead of time, but once you get to the theater, you realize there's either something wrong with your seat to the person directly in front is blocking your view (we've all been there). The current system allows you to simply move to another spot, but by reserving seats ahead of time, you're stuck where you are. Hopefully rolling out this change in Manhattan will help AMC work out the bugs, but this is a good starting point.

What do you think? Is reserved seating a good idea for movie theaters or are we better off choosing the best seat available once inside? Give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

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