Raise a glass to Pacific Theatres Entertainment Corp., whose cinema at the Grove shopping center became the chain’s first to serve alcohol with the opening of its new lobby bar last Friday.
This isn’t the first time Pacific’s parent company, Decurion Corp., has courted patrons by offering them a drink.
Beverly Grove-based Decurion also owns national theater chain ArcLight Cinemas, which opened its first location, ArcLight Hollywood, in 2002. The luxury chain made a splash by offering alcohol along with reserved seating and gourmet food options when it entered the movie exhibition scene.
Gretchen McCourt, executive vice president of cinema programming for ArcLight, said alcohol remains at the forefront of the chain’s effort to compete with increased home or portable device viewing options.
The annual box-office total for the Unites States and Canada increased by 2 percent in 2016 to $11.4 billion, but the number of tickets sold stayed flat at 1.32 billion, according to data from the Motion Picture Association of America Inc. inWashington, D.C.
McCourt cited alcoholic drinks and comfort seating – along with reservations and gourmet dining –as the most important new waves in luxury movie-going. She noted that reclining seats can be difficult to deploy since they take up needed room, but ArcLight is working with footrests than may provide a similar level of relaxation.
“We hear more and more from people that they want their time back,” said McCourt. “They want to have a bite to eat and drink in the evening, and to only park their car once. At this point, we want to be sure we are offering as much variety as we can to provide incentive to leave your house for entertainment.”
ArcLight began what it calls a wall-to-wall drink policy in 2015 in which it allows patrons to take their drinks into the screening of their choice. ArcLight Hollywood was the last of the firm’s 10 theaters to introduce wall-to-wall alcohol, in 2016.
Previously, ArcLight patrons could only take their drinks into special “Over 21” screenings. McCourt said theaters are also experimenting with adding alcohol sales to concession stands in addition to standalone bars so customers don’t have to wait in two lines.
ArcLight cinemas do not provide waiter service in the auditorium in an effort to avoid interrupting the movie experience. Several national chains with L.A.-area locations, including AMC Theatres’ Dine-In brand, iPic Entertainment and Cinépolis USA, the U.S. division of the largest movie theater chain in Mexico, offer in-auditorium delivery of food and drink.
“Ultimately, moviegoers want to feel comfortable and have options when they watch a movie,” said April Mendoza, Cinépolis USA’s vice president of marketing and food and beverage, said in an email. “It is our goal to meet these needs in the most elevated way possible.”
– Diane Haithman
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