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Thanks – I also assume Hoyts had a solid relationship with Pyramid as they were operators at their other malls but retreated from here. Regal picked up those locations and interestingly enough they won back this former Hoyts site. I guess I can’t fault Regal for the name, I sat in a slopped seating theater this weekend Rave bought from National Amusements and saw the pre-show slide reveal “Rave: The Ultimate Stadium Theaters” um no – they just bought some high quality non-stadium theaters, they need to change their marketing and deal with it.
As Paul mentioned, AMC of coarse still has Maple Ridge which is always clean and well run but a bit of a mystery: this type of 80’s era AMC were closed years ago, it’s rare to find AMC still running a theater that looks like this (it’s atmosphere is similar to Morristown, NJ’s Headquarters 10 which is now run by local chain Clearview Cinemas).
I’m not sure what AMC’s long term goals are in Buffalo, while Maple Ridge has a 3-D projector which would indicate a sign of confidence and long term stability (there are other AMCs that don’t have one) they also are now doing “weekday escape” pricing – all shows are $4.50, which might have other indications. I suppose it still does alright.
I secretly hope AMC allows it’s lease to expire and Dipson takes over Maple Ridge. Then again there is the possibility that one of the two theaters Regal is going to trade to AMC (as a result of the Kerasotes deal) could be in the Buffalo region (I’m thinking Elmwood or Niagara Falls), it certainly would avoid any DOJ conflict.
Scott D. Neff has a comprehensive CinemaTour of the place at: http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/5801.html – it looks to be a late 80s era theater, I only say this because it shares some similarities in terms of auditorium appointments to their once flagship (now AMC dumping ground) – Richfield Park from the photos. The seats I would be willing to be were installed by Phoenix.
Entertainment Property Trust announced it has a signed letter of intent from another exhibitor to take over the complex. EPT had been talking about downsizing the property or maybe a VIP/dinner section there. I don’t know if that’s right for the market but it appears that the screens won’t remain dark for long.
I agree, but it’d be nice if someone could come in and challenge Clearview and AMC, it would have to be a local operator. I wonder if Community Theaters which opened the excellent theater in Center City has any aspirations to branch out.
I believe this was formerly a Loews Theatres.
N/A had monster auditoriums, consider West Springfield, MA which was cobbled together from 3 older buildings – the two largest theaters which I consider to be monsters for stadium seating era multiplexes (they may even have larger screens that the nearby retrofit IMAX at Buckland Hills/Manchester, CT) – were once one major auditorium. Now that I’d love to see a picture of.
But back to Scott’s point and I’m not sure if in the move to CinemaTour the National sites that Rave just bought this came up. I don’t know how some Cinema De Lux sites were converted, but at Buckland they removed an auditorium for Chatters and the food court, took out the center snack bar and put in a new one at the halfway point the lobby and built a theater in what was once half the lobby. That’s the only example I could think of in the modern stadium era, most Loews additions were add-ons only because the theaters weren’t that large. If anything the stadium era downsized itself when AMC, Regal and Cinemark figured out anything over 20 screens wasn’t really sustainable.
Well it’s good that the theater is adding DLP because Kinnelon can’t seem to get 35MM right. I had an awful experience here last night which caused us to leave before the feature: the manager had told us they changed aperture plates and rearranged the booth so that a scope film could only project on about 80% of what is already a pretty small screen.
The film was projected in the bottom right leaving much of the top and left side of the screen unprojected. The placement of the projector also slightly distorted the image. The kicker is that this isn’t a second run discount house where I could be more forgiving – I expect a quality experience at a first run theater with an adult evening ticket price of $10.75. We did receive a refund, and the reason we come here once in a while is that it’s local and the popcorn is good.
Howard B. Haas you’re 100% right with your comment, Clearview does do a better job elsewhere and I’m sure its new complexes are fine (I know SOPAC very nice). I would say part of the problem are the cheap sites they acquired such as this one – converted from retail it follows the old AMC model, it could just as easily be converted back to retail with projection booths only a few steps above the theater. Therefore the previous operators not thinking of advent of stadium seating boom in the late 90’s (which cased many a chain to go bankrupt) built the place on the cheap. I mean really this place competed with musty old Colonial Twin and the revolving door of operators at the Abby. This theater doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a modern cineplex, but the sound is fine (in one of the larger theaters staff often tell us to sit in the center to experience the full sound system) and there is a commitment to get that $3 upgrade charge by adding digital 3-D.
The problem here is it still holds its own because it fills a niche in the region, it’s the closest theater to me, which is why we went here first before driving to Garden State where we ultimately saw the film which filled the whole of a properly masked large screen. It has a pleasant atmosphere where parent feel safe dropping off their kids, so as a “community theater” it works.
With that said, and those are important qualities, I would venture to say that of every theater I’ve been to (and I see about 4 films a week in theaters) this is flat out the worst in terms of projection now that the (former Clearview) Screening Zone (which I dealt with only because they showed amazing films despite having outdated projection equipment and oddly placed screens) is gone.
I caught a flick here earlier today: what’s changed? Glad you asked. Strangely enough the theater is identical in design to the former Showcase Cinemas Berlin (Berlin, CT) and also has a new expanded snack bar with hot foods and ice cream, Rave kept that and changed the popcorn (not for the better) and now serve Coke.
I had last been to Hazlet about 5 years ago, since then the concession stand is new as are the electronic displays over the auditorium entrances, the ticket stands still have analog boards. They’ve also added LCD menu displays at the main concession stand. The theaters aren’t stadium, ironic since we saw a digital slide show (Screenvision) before the feature that told us Rave is the “ultimate stadium theater”.
As for outside signs they’ve pained over “Multiplex” on board near the highway and also removed that lettering from the building, they’ve also centered the word “CINEMAS” over the main entrance so I’m not sure if they will be changing any other signs (theres slight label scarring). The presentation was 35MM with no Rave logo (they did show the National Amusements exit bumper before the previews). I really wish Rave didn’t change the concessions, National has the best popcorn of any major theater chain, Rave’s is decent and actually larger but not as delicious.
Harlem and Largo, MD – both being newer are still open. AMC is shifting direction but I’m not sure where they are going so I’m not sure how giving this one up plays into that shift.
Any word who the operator is going to – who understands the LA and urban market as alluded in the prwirenews release? Regal, Rave, Cinemark, Regency? Any guesses before the official word is out.
To be fair my local Regal has a genuine IMAX built before the push to retrofit (Transit Center 18, Williamsville/Buffalo, NY) – they exist but the retrofits has taken over. My major objection to this theater and I hope I’m wrong (I probably won’t have an occasion to be in Anchorage, AK to see it in person, but then again stranger things have happened) – is that it looks to be a new retrofit. There are a few pictures online at:
Okay – so first clue – no “cliff” the way in classic IMAX theaters the audience is elevated from the street (there is a drop off between the first row and the screen). Second clue if you look at the photos – the theater that may actually be the IMAX auditorium is the same height as its neighbor across the lobby. The are also pictures of the IMAX auditorium as well, but those can be misleading.
Man I hope I’m wrong on all counts, but this looks like it was an afterthought which is a shame. IMAX should be the star attraction and it should be larger than life! It should be included in the early planning stages and these auditoriums should be larger than life monsters that aren’t comparable in size to other auditoriums.
lol – those seats won’t be missed! Although they might have not been bad if there were re-apulstured, while the new Cinema City wing is said to contain artifacts of the old theater, I hope they don’t preserve the musty smell of the old place and pipe it in to the new Cinema City wing!
On a serious note: I do have confidence Bow Tie will be keeping the same programing, although the New Haven Criterion Cinemas started as mostly an art house and slowly slid more towards mainstream aside from the later added “digital screening rooms” – the theater started with 5 and grew to 9, although the screenings rooms originally were intended for private rentals). Of coarse it appears Cinema City itself is a little less daring (the enjoyable and beautifully shot Letters to Juliet is playing this week) with Showcase Cinemas East Hartford closed. I assumed historically Cinema City and East Hartford could not/did not play the same films at the same time. This agreement/booking territory probably extended way way back. Occasionally when they were under different ownership Cinema City (Hoyts) and the (Crown) Palace would show something day and date when it was of interest to their different markets – I remember Love Actually and Under the Tuscan Sun having books at Cinema City and not East Hartford in the Hoyts/Northeastern era.
If anything “Cinema City” can become a sort of brand, Crown tried that by calling it “ART @ Cinema City” – lame name if you ask me. I’m all for indie films getting more exposure and a label if it means more people will see them like “AMC Select” or the refreshed “AMC Independent” – but I’m not sure if the label helps without proper marketing. I’m more optimistic about a separate wing of Cinema City and wish it well, it has to succeed or you’ll be driving to New Haven or (sometimes for some flicks) Middletown to see these commercial indies.
I have many thoughts on this – high ticket prices and premium fees I think are both overrated by analysts and unnecessary to a good degree. Perhaps weak films don’t help: the big tent pole movies sucked including Shriek Forever After and Sex & The City 2, I guess there’s not much optimism for The A-Team. There was a whole string of recent films that I thought sucked, the aforemented and Price of Persia, Kites, MacGruber, The Back Up Plan, Robin Hood. The good were under the radar or marginal hits (on the mainstream side): The Losers, Letters to Juliet, Just Wright, Get Him to the Greek, Splice. On the indie side – I have no idea what will be a break out hit this summer, but then again I suppose that’s the awesome thing about a break out hit, who knows. But I haven’t seen a trailer that screamed out to me the way the (500) Days of Summer one did this time last summer.
Being a huge fan of Bow Tie Cinemas I’m very happy for you, Tomas Kent.
Is the theater still a reserved seating venue? I’m wondering if Rave is focusing just on theaters operations and closing the extras National had like reserved seating and 12 Lounge (which would be crazy when you think about how Sex & The City must justify these amenities).
From the new pictures on Cinema Tour it looks identical in design to the Island 16 right down to the outdoors seating.
I’ve come the conclusion IMAX is now a sound system more than anything else – cool, but I don’t think we should pay more for an immersive experience, some of those new builds AMC has (Rockaway even before the IMAX and Garden State) are immersive on their own. I almost want to say – you want original the IMAX experience – sit close to the screen.
In that respect I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter anymore, with the Titan XC, EXT, RPX, and XD, not to mention Cineplex in Canada doing a system, it all irrelevant. Congrads IMAX – you cannibalized yourself, you deserved it for selling out. But I’ve been warning you about IMAX lites since the first retrofits (Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT). In that respect if it’s not in 3-D then I probably shouldn’t care. And I don’t get why IMAX theaters in new builds are the sizes of the retrofits – if your building a star attraction why not build a monster – raise the roof – do it bigger and better!?! (I’m going by the pictures of the brand new Regal Tikahtnu Commons' IMAX in Anchorage, AK)
I guess it’s like any theater, an informed customer will make the right choice. There’s a reason why I go to a certain theater over another to see a certain film: the audience, which is a factor that shouldn’t be discounted, I go to have a good experience, or if that night going is a form of meditation then I might go to a theater that isn’t crowded. I think instead of figuring out who to extract a few extra dollars with minimal construction costs from film goers – they ought to figure out how to make the experience better and more exciting. Ploys are nothing new in the history of film, but I’ve said if a theater chain could harness the power and excitement of a great film festival like Toronto they’d have movie goers coming back every night of the week and that atmosphere starts in the lobby and extends to the films, audience and customer service. A few chains get it right, but I can tell you I was a hell of a lot more excited to be in the lobby of Harkins Northfield 18 (Denver, CO) than I was to be at my local Clearview Cinemas.
Agreed – unless they can increase the throw of image to enlarge it, then what’s the point? And I’m not sure if these giant screens have masking. Again, this is a frustrating, stupid gimmick instead of theaters actually building a new large screen. It’s nothing new – I always laughed when there was no new IMAX product at Showcase Buckland Hills (near Hartford, CT) and they would show a 35MM film in the IMAX auditorium (an auditorium modified with a wall to ceiling screen) – the 35MM image would be the same and with such a small screen (Buckland didn’t have any monstrous theaters) the quality was great, without the extra ticket price.
Wait!? There was a theater in Riverdale, NJ?
I hope they do convert an auxiliary snack bar (that are never used) into a coffee bar, tables and pleasant atmosphere. Part of the charm of Cinema City was the patron review board, so adding those touches will give it a sense of community. Ironic that a certain type of patron you wouldn’t mind loitering – whereas others…..well let’s not go there.
I haven’t been to either theater in about two years since I lived in CT but the rare art film that played at the Palace rarely was met with success – I think we were the only ones in the theater when we saw Bee Season there. I think the issue is the perception of the Palace, which attracts a certain kind of rowdy crowd no matter what Joe Masher might believe (it did last I was there). Upscaling part of it and making it into a unique art house would probably help them sell the idea of art pictures at the Palace – or better yet – show them at Blue Back Square. It makes sense since I think that end of town/West Hartford is a little over screened (although the Palace’s 7PM shows on Saturdays did too well – in fact we’d have to budget in a half hour just to buy tickets, other times it was less crazy).
I’m sad to see Cinema City go, it was out of date and really it just needed new seats and masking in the two smaller theaters (it didn’t under Crown, anyway). I have many a good memory from my undergrad years at Cinema City (many times virtually alone at the late show on a weekday night under Hoyts/Northeastern and Crown).
While I have zero confirmation on this I suspect Rave had a management agreement with the mall and not a lease, therefore they were operating it so that the theater wouldn’t sit, it’s common for theaters to be offered leases way below what a retailer would pay because a theater is considered a draw on its own, adding value to the complex. It’s better to have a theater with move overs and indie flicks as a draw to a shopping complex. I’m guessing the reason it never became a discount house is that an upscale mall would view that as drawing a crowed the might not prefer to have. Unfortunately the mall probably thinks it’ll pull in more with a large national retailer in that spot.
Ironically enough Virgin Megastore recently closed and was still profitable despite heavy compition from iTunes and Best Buy – it had been taken over by a real estate firm that saw the potential to release the space to national retailers (Times Square is also becoming a Forever 21).
PS: Tim – what’s happening with the Carlton – I cinema tour-ed it when I was there on the eve of TIFF in 2008. Last time I was up there (two months ago for the Images Fest) I noticed that it was still dead. Is Rainbow Cinemas still reopening it?
It’s a shame that it sounds like you and Rave put a lot of work into making the theater work, I know first hand on the east coast how Loews Cineplex under Travis Reed and with the investment banks ran a few fine multiplexes into the ground (like the Cineplex Odeon-expanded Route Four 10 Plex that Justin referenced above, to name a few). Ironic because the Canadian Cineplex locations are pretty good. (Sony and Cineplex, independently from what I recall were the best operators – although I should note AMC did improve a few sites)
The little things like keeping theaters and restrooms clean and the projection in frame and focused go a long way in improving the experience and they really don’t cost the theater anything to provide, just training and a staff that actually cares. I don’t know why that was so hard for certain chains to grasp. It sounds like Rave provided you with the resources to have a well run operation. I wish you and your staff all the best.
Now run by Regal.
It’s certainly an innovative use for a location that’s probably still doing decent business but is in need of refreshing. It was pretty successful years ago and was a venue that often got exclusive area bookings (I remember seeing the Almost Famous sneak preview under GCC back in the day there – great movie). Fork & Screen in the ATL had been a dinning and movie venue for a while, and they’ve added this concept to their flagship location (Main Street in Kansas City, MI) and Studio 30 (in KS), and I’ve heard talk of it coming to a location in Santa Monica area.
Of coarse its worth noting that no other theater in NJ does this to the best of my knowledge (in theater dinning), although I was always hoping National would turn Edgewater into a Cinema De Lux. Muvico at Xanadu was going to have it, as well as Jersey Gardens (they even have special seats with tables in a few larger theaters). AMC didn’t say if Bridgewater would become a Fork & Screen or Cinema Suites – with the later being more upscale, and the former being like the less hip corporate version of the Alamo Draft House. Both might work at this location since its an upscale mall, but I do remember the theater being a hit with teens/families. Unless they abandoned it for the Reading 12-plex down the street.
I doubt it knowing that everything is controlled by Kansas City at AMC. I remember someone in Kansas City a few years back keyed in the wrong thing and I was able to go online and buy tickets for Mike Judge’s Idiocracy in West Orange, NJ. That film never played in NJ/NYC.
I called the theater to ask if it was a mistake and they told me “no” – so I bought tickets, printed out my confirmation only to arrive and find that on the digitally controlled board that Idiocracy at 8 was sold out! When we printed our tickets at the Kiosk we were given a message saying the show was canceled and I should visit guest services, when we arrived the manager said “so your the two that bought tickets to the show we don’t have”
We did get comp tickets, a refund and free popcorn for our troubles with the explanation that it was someone in the home office that punched in the wrong thing (the movie that should have been punched in was Jackass). Strangely they had to manually override it at the theater level and couldn’t remove it from digital hallwalls signage.
I also know from the folks at Rockaway that the prices on the digital menu boards at the concession stand are controlled remotely by corporate. Hell maybe even the digital projection rooms are. My guess is AMC corporate jacked up the prices and retreated when they got caught.
That’s awesome! I personally HATE Tim Burton flicks! Where are Wilcox Theaters? If I’m ever in town I’m going to stop by, see a flick and buy lots of snacks to support this place!