Luxury Movie Theaters Taking Off


The folks at Australia-based Village Roadshow have long had their eyes on entering U.S. markets with their Gold Class Cinemas. Through a joint venture they now have locations in Central U.S., California, and Washington with plans targeting all major U.S. cities over the next 5 years. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this exciting venture,” adds Kirk Senior, CEO of Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas. “The demand for luxury movie-going in the U.S. is very strong, and by working with our partners we are delivering on that demand in a way never before experienced by the American consumer.” >.

While not the first on the luxury theater circuit in the U.S. as Regal Entertainment, Cinemark, National Amusements, and Sundance Cinemas offer similar services at lower prices of $12 – 18 per ticket, they may very well be the best. “Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas are renowned worldwide for providing the ultimate luxury cinema experience. Introducing that experience in the U.S. is a natural extension of our highly-regarded brand and our Village Roadshow businesses,” said Robert Kirby, Deputy Chairman, Village Roadshow Limited.

Most Gold Class Cinemas are the size of a standard 150 seat movie theater featuring a maximum of 40 unique, luxury reclining arm chair seats with footrests. Moviegoers select their seats online prior to arriving. Valet service is available. Instead of waiting in a line, patrons can relax in a first-class contemporary lounge with bar service to enjoy wine, beer, cocktails and a fresh regional menu prepared by an in-house chef. You’re escorted to your cinema seating in a screening room atmosphere with digital projection on super-wide screens for both 2D and 3D movies featuring Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The plush seats have accent-lighted service tables with call buttons to order food and drinks or to obtain a blanket or pillow throughout the duration of the movie.

There are an estimated 350 high-end multiplexes in the U.S. The attraction to movie theater owners is huge. A little more than 50% of each ticket goes to the movie studios. The concessions revenues and profits are kept in-house. The key is to combine an assortment of amenities valued by luxury-seeking patrons willing to pay upwards of $30 per person for them.

A recent article at USA Today > states as the movie industry celebrates “a boffo year of box office — $10.6 billion in ticket sales, the most ever — theaters are going after new revenue and changing the movie-going experience for millions of Americans, turning some multiplexes into luxury outposts and quasi-community centers while assigning new meaning to the concept of “dinner theater.”

Besides, Americans have demonstrated over the years that even as they cut back on expenses during times of recession we keep buying movie tickets. Think about this, too. When we go out to the movies is it just the movies? Ordinarily a trip to a restaurant for food and drinks is involved before or after the movies. The luxury cinema concept offers ways for movie theaters to capture more revenue that you likely are already spending anyway. We also save precious time traveling to a location providing an all-embracing experience.

It’s in our nature to experience the best our money can buy. Movie theater owners are also well aware that you can’t do luxury on the cheap expecting your patrons to put down $20, $30, and more for an experience that falls short of expectations. So value must be real and contribute to a heightened experience from the time you arrive until you depart. Here’s to being wined, dined, and pampered.

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