Despite the fact that the medium has existed for the better part of a century, the essential experience of going to the movies has remained relatively unchanged since the inception of the format. As new methods of entertainment rise to prominence and challenge the dominance of film, innovation has become a high priority. On that note, in the scramble to achieve theater superiority, it seems that AMC has decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that you can watch the latest films in the most comfortable way possible. In fact, AMC is in the process of investing an astounding $420 million in completely revamping the seating in its theaters.
USA Today reports this process has primarily involved converting its standard seating into massive luxury recliner seats, and this summer the chain will even begin incorporating personal seat heaters into the chairs at some of its theaters. In addition to the seating changes, AMC will also start to roll out gourmet food options and signature cocktail menus to cater to the increasingly sophisticated needs of its clientele.
AMC isn't the only theater chain making such drastic changes to the seating in its cinemas. Regal has recently invested in "buttkicker" seats that rumble and vibrate to match the action on-screen, and iPic is incorporating loveseat-style recliners that cater to the needs of moviegoing couples -- complete with a recline function that reduces neck strain in the front of the theater. Every chain seems to have a different idea when it comes to satisfying the needs of cinephiles, so it will be interesting to see how the moviegoing experience evolves in the next few years.
It's hardly surprising to see a theater chain try to experiment with ways to get butts into these revamped seats. Although box office numbers continue to improve (largely due to increasing ticket prices) and records continue to break, overall theater attendance is stagnating at best, and declining at worst. There are some reasons for this change; from the sheer cost of going to the movies and the availability of other forms of entertainment at home, and even to safety concerns. Theaters clearly see the need to evolve with the times, and investing in these new seats (among other improvements) apparently seems like a step forward.
As far as theater "improvements" go, the concept of enhancing the seating seems like a no-brainer, and a far better idea than other options suggested in recent days. Some theater chains have recently floated new ideas for altering the essential moviegoing experience, and most of them have been downright terrible. Among these ideas were: child-friendly theaters with jungle gyms, and even theaters with lax attitudes towards cell phone use and texting. In an attempt to combat the growing legitimacy of television, streaming services like Netflix, and new potential movie streaming formats like the controversial Screening Room, this change to how we sit in our movies seems like a much safer bet.
Of course, you can have the coolest movie theaters in the world, but it won't mean much if you don't know which movies to see. With that in mind, make sure to check out our 2017 movie premiere guide to see the rest of this year's theatrical debuts.