AMC, the nation's second-largest cinema chain, is opening its first Southern California dine-in movie theater, taking the concept of dinner and a movie to a new level.
Set to open Monday, the remodeled AMC Dine-In Theatres Marina 6 is the 11th dine-in theater that the Kansas City, Mo., chain has opened around the country since its first location debuted in 2008 in an affluent Atlanta district.
The refurbished location, on the second floor of a shopping center at Maxella and Glencoe avenues in Marina del Rey, features six auditoriums for adults only. Patrons can order food and drinks, including beer and wine, while sitting in reclining leather seats.
"It's dinner and a movie, and it's done right — what could be better than that?" AMC Chief Executive Gerry Lopez said in a statement. "Based on the feedback at these locations around the country, our guests in the Los Angeles area are going to love this experience."
AMC — recently acquired by China's Dalian Wanda Group — is not the first chain in L.A. to offer dine-in services, but its Marina del Rey theater, which has 427 seats, is the largest of its kind to hit the local market and the first offered by a major U.S. chain.
The opening underscores the fact that the dine-in-theater concept, a niche business once viewed skeptically by the exhibition industry, is becoming more widespread and attractive to theater operators because it enables them to take a bite out of a lucrative business they currently lose to restaurants and bars.
Offering premium food and beverage services also is another way for theaters to lure patrons to the multiplex and away from watching a movie in the comfort of their homes — and to spend more money once they get to the theater.
AMC Marina 6 includes a lobby bar and lounge serving gourmet burgers, artisan flatbreads, roasted chicken and brisket quesadillas, and Thai Bang shrimp tacos, with prices ranging from $6.99 to $15.99.
As with other dine-in theaters, the luxury service comes at a price. The cost of a ticket at AMC Marina 6 will be as much as $17.50 (excluding food and 3-D surcharges) depending on the day of week and showtime — about $5 more than the price at a regular AMC theater.
AMC invested about $5 million to remodel the theater, gutting the auditorium to install new sound systems, screens and seating. The new complex has about 50% fewer seats than the old one to make room for larger La-Z-Boy-like recliners and more than 4 feet of aisle space.
"We're trying to bring the comfort of the living room to a movie theater," said AMC Theatres spokesman Ryan Noonan, during a tour of the new venue. "There are lots of entertainment options out there and we want to make sure that we continue to stay in the game."
Each seat has its own swing table, food and drinks menu, and buttons that patrons can push to place orders at any time during the movie. Servers dressed in black, to minimize disruption, use electronic tablets to quietly punch in food and drink orders.
Some other theater chains limit food and beverage service to the first 15 minutes of the film, but AMC executives are predicting their customers will want service throughout the film.
"If you're watching 'The Hobbit' and after two hours you need a second beer, we should be able to provide that," said Dan Glennon, AMC's director of dine-in training and best practices.
The theater, which will offer reserved seating, will cater to couples and older patrons who want a more "adult atmosphere" when watching movies, Noonan said.
He would not say how much revenue privately owned AMC generates from its dine-in theaters, but said that they are highly profitable and popular with customers wherever they operate. He said AMC is looking to add more dine-in theaters nationwide, including in the Los Angeles area.
AMC will face some competition. Several other theater chains have been offering so-called premium food and beverage services, some with dine-in options.
Australian luxury theater operator Gold Class Cinemas brought its high-end brand to Pasadena three years ago. (It was sold and now operates as IPic Theaters.)
And Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, the Mexico City theater circuit, has opened three luxury theaters in Southern California, including a new location in Westlake Village, where patrons can order gourmet food and drinks from their seats.
ArcLight Cinemas opened a premium cinema in El Segundo in 2010, allowing patrons to bring alcoholic drinks into a theater reserved for those age 21 and older. Customers, however, can't order food and drinks from their seats.
Noonan said he isn't concerned about the competition.
"We really think this is a good concept for L.A.," he said.