AMC Reveals Big Plans to Install Recliners in More Movie Theaters

July 7, 2014

AMC Movie Theaters

It's time to recline. There's a big story in the Wall Street Journal this week highlighting plans from AMC Entertainment to install more recliner seating in some theaters, while taking out the old crappy style seats in the process of upgrading. The article defends some flack from external criticism about how removing seats just doesn't "make sense" but goes on to explain, with quotes from AMC's CEO Gerry Lopez, that they believe it will be better off in the long run if they put in these recliner seats. Yes, they will eventually charge more for them (but not right at first), and they won't be in NY or LA, but it's still cool to see this happening.

Don't forget that two years ago, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought AMC and while it still operates as its own entity here in the US, they now have a bit more pressure to bring in more customers. And to up the entertainment value, shall we say. Here's where the details come in and they explain the big plans to upgrade some theaters to recliner seats: "The company plans to spend about $600 million over the next five years to 'reseat' 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 screens. The renovations typically cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium, with landlords often shouldering some of the cost." A cute infographic from WSJ:

AMC Recliners

Oddly, in New York City there aren't a plentiful supply of recliner theaters so I can't say I'm lucky enough to have this experience, and they explain why that's the case. "Busy venues in major markets like Los Angeles or New York don't need cushy seats to attract customers, so it doesn't make sense to cut their capacities." So they won't get the new recliners and won't have their current seats torn out, which, I suppose, makes some sense. But then again, I look at photos like this (below) and think, man, that looks wonderful. I would love to see all movies that way. As long as there are no other distractions… but if these seats existed, I would be at this theater quite often. Wouldn't you? I'm curious to try these elsewhere or just wait for them to get here.

AMC Recliners

For those concerned about extra costs and how much AMC is planning to make off of customers, well, it won't be that bad. "AMC Chief Executive Gerry Lopez says he is now banking on quality over quantity. AMC plans to wait about a year after upgrading its theaters before raising ticket prices." Okay, but how much? They explain: "AMC typically doesn't change ticket prices in the first year after construction to 'seed' behavior, said Mr. Lopez, but the admission fee goes up in subsequent years. Then, if a regular theater raises ticket prices 25 cents, tickets to a reseated auditorium might go up $1 or $1.25, he said." Now you know. If you go to the movies and sit in these seats, you're "seeding" this, and will be part of the price raise when it inevitably hits. But that's how it works. Can't fight that system, especially when they have such nice seats.

As nice as this all sounds, it doesn't fix every problem with modern movie theaters. And it does seem like a bit of a deflection from these other problems. Our friend Chris @tracksounds jokes about this on twitter:

For now it sounds like it will take a few years for the renovations to be completed across the country, but at least they're on the way and AMC is at least trying to make the experience at movie theaters better. If only they would work on other distractions, in addition to making the seats comfortable, then maybe we would all be back at movie theaters more often. For those hoping that recliner seats may eventually come to "busy venues in major markets" near them, they do say: "In a second wave of conversions at better-performing theaters, AMC is planning to install seats that don't recline as far back, so just half of the capacity is lost." Those may end up at some of the more popular venues, so be on the lookout for renovations coming soon.

If you live near any theaters upgraded with recliner/couch seats, let us know if you think they're worth it. Do you go to the movies more if the theater has nicer seats? Do you think it'll make a difference at AMC?

Find more posts: Discuss, Movie News



Imagine the condition of those things after a couple months...

Bl00dwerK on Jul 7, 2014


That's good. I can only image how the yahoos where I live would treat them...

Bl00dwerK on Jul 7, 2014


I imagine one would pretty thoroughly torture test these before outfitting thousands of seats in literally thousands of theaters.

avconsumer2 on Jul 8, 2014


I would hope they know what they're doing.

technoreaper on Jul 8, 2014


The AMC theater I frequent was one of the pilot locations, and they've been going strong for almost 2 years now. In many ways, they're actually cleaner than the old ones since it's easier to wipe down pleather/leather than traditional cloth seats.

Phillip Gockel on Jul 8, 2014


They better have nicer seats considering they raised the price of their tickets.. 15 dollars for a god damn movie ticket at AMC 25 in NYC

steve on Jul 7, 2014


There's actually an AMC theater in NYC outfitted with recliner seats in all of their auditoriums, it's the one on 84th and Broadway.

Carlos Martinez on Jul 7, 2014


Yeah that's what was preventing me going to the theatre. Not comfy enough.

OfficialJab on Jul 7, 2014


There's a movie theater called Cinepolis Luxury Theaters that has been ahead of AMC with reclining seats and in seat dining. Because of Cinepolis I like going to the movies alot more than when I was a kid.

wake on Jul 7, 2014


I'm totally open to this idea. It's better than having to find a seat with no one in front of you to put your feet up on it. However, all we have in town (Fresno, CA) are Regal this really isn't a big concern here.

JBrotsis on Jul 7, 2014


Lol, they've had this in Australia and Asia for years.

Trey Wilson on Jul 8, 2014


The AMC in my town has had these for a few years, they're fantastic.

cuckoozey on Jul 8, 2014


Does the recliner massage your balls too? If not, then im just meh about it.

Rock n Rollllll on Jul 8, 2014


Please don't turn into the Alamo. Just went to one and it sucked hard, especially because of the food, but also the Nazi rules. This isn't going to work, trust me.

technoreaper on Jul 8, 2014


lol. you got kicked out for texting, didn't you?

Jason Thompson on Jul 10, 2014


Uh, no. But if you like to see movies in places where you're treated like a prisoner in Abu Ghraib, this might be the place for you. Some people like to pay for this sort of treatment, I guess.

technoreaper on Jul 10, 2014


next time bring your parents and they won't kick you out for being underage. lol.

Jason Thompson on Jul 10, 2014


Does it make you feel superior for taking abuse?

technoreaper on Jul 10, 2014


No but laughing at whiners who can't show self control in public places feels kinda tingly.

Jason Thompson on Jul 10, 2014


Do you really think people are going to enjoy seeing a movie at a theater with nasty smelling food, roaming servers and ushers and a behavior policy that rivals most concentration camps? Good luck. Do you see AMC or any other big theater chain copying this practice? That should tell you everything about how stupid it is.

technoreaper on Jul 10, 2014


Let me guess, you got kicked out because you couldn't shut the hell up? Just a guess from our conversation here...

Jason Thompson on Jul 10, 2014


Seriously, for the last time, I did not get kicked out. The movie I was watching was too good, otherwise, I wouldn't have cared.

technoreaper on Jul 10, 2014


oh, so you waited until you hit the internet before you bitched like a girl-scout with a skinned knee.

Jason Thompson on Jul 10, 2014


Why would they have to raise their prices? They already increased their food prices as well as ticket prices. They put the recliners in the Prime theater which charges you 5 more bucks. So Matinee 7.50+5.00+5.00 for fancy seats and sound plus 3D. There were less than 10 people in the theater as well. Now drinks are self serve. So since we have to provide the labor for our drinks maybe lowering the price? There is a reason why DVD sales/rentals and Redbox and Netflix have made huge gains. I have very seldom been in the theater with a packed audience. This is LA btw.

Devin_MacGregor on Jul 9, 2014


Last year AMC opened a reclining seat theater 5 minutes away from my house. Takes awhile to get used to reserved seating and knowing what seats to pick. Absolutely love the seats and this theater. Shows before 12 are only $7 each. Love that you can go online, reserve your seats, and go into the theater after all the previews. You don't have to rush or watch the previews if you don't want too. Awesome experience.

sockgal on Sep 5, 2014


They installed the fully reclining chairs in all the screens at the Fallbrook multiplex in West Hills, CA (Los Angeles) about a year ago. And are beginning installation of the new seats in Santa Monica, CA. So much for not doing it in LA.

Steve Dickey on Feb 8, 2015


They installed recliners recently at a Regal theater near me (that I didn't go to very much before because my AMC Stubs membership got me better rewards for a family of 4). LOVE the comfort and extra room of these seats, plus being able to reserve specific seats in advance is great (just took 5 kids and 2 adults for a birthday party, so we could all sit together in the perfect row and not have to rush). Wish an AMC near me would change their seats. It sucked spending over $150 for seven 3D tix and concessions and not getting credit for the full amount with the Regal Crown Club (AMC would have given me 150 points)

Kate on Feb 15, 2015


The AMC @ Lincoln Center in NYC has a great Hugh screen & sound system but terrible old seating that feels like your sitting on a wooden chair! I'm 6'2 a feel a little cramped in there also... This is NYC! AMC needs to step it up @ this location for $21 per seat!!!!

David Crespo on Jun 5, 2015


I live in a suburb of San Antonio, 30 min trip to the AMC Rivercenter that has had recliners for more than a year. I have gone to 7 or 8 movies since I discovered this theater, only 1 at another theater. At 50 yrs old, with 2 knee surgeries in my past and now a neck injury, I won't go to any other theater. And even with seats reclined, there is still more room to exit to the aisle than in a traditional theater. The clincher for me, though, is the ability to reserve specific seats when buying tickets online. I have to think that us older folks will spend a little extra, and drive a little further, to not be in pain during and after a movie.

Karen K on Jun 22, 2015


Recliners are popular because people are getting too fat to be comfortable in regular seats.

Mel Jenkins on Nov 16, 2015

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