Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Market Arcade 8 on Nov 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Last place in town to see a first run show in 35MM! (Movieland is 5/8ths 35MM – – and everyone else is fully digital)

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Ridgefield Park 12 on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Visited tonight – it appears to be a bit of a work in progress (or not….Starplex’s other NJ location – Brunswick Square, also saw very few changes beyond the auditoriums). Great presentation and extremely comfortable black leather-ette recliners – side masking for those that care about that kind of thing (at least in theater #2) along with the promised video monitors in the lobby, snack bar and guiding us into the auditoriums. Once in the hallway no atmosphere what-so-ever- – new carpeting and the removal of the small concession stand downstairs, also no posters or signs beyond (temp?) auditoriums numbers.

Many touches remain including (like Brunswick Square) the bathrooms – which could use some remodeling and other lobby touches. Hopefully they’ll class up the joint a bit more. The customer service however was excellent tonight and the staff was friendly explaining the Starplex rewards card and greeting folks prior to cleaning the auditorium (and showing off how the seats worked for those that hadn’t been in this kind of theater before). Good experience and great value – the adult ticket price at $10 is, I think, the cheapest in Bergen County for by far the best seats. If only the theater wasn’t in such a weird location.

A bar and expanded concessions may be on the way (lobby space is certainly in no shortage). An awful lot to like about this theatre so far – and hopefully Starplex’s work isn’t done yet.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers on Oct 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Bow Tie unfortunately departed from Central Plaza so Alamo can pretty much show whatever they want now. I had originally thought Alamo would be the place for genre kinds of films, while Central Plaza might get more family friendly stuff – even though Alamo does play both (in fact I spoke with families when I was the director a tech camp two summers ago in Austin and many families make the Alamo a theater of choice for a day out).

I had visited Yonkers opening night and had a good experience even if it wasn’t perfect (it was opening night – and they took 75% off our bill so I’m not complaining). They have pictures up on Facebook – and while they didn’t install Stadium Seating they made extensive lobby changes while keeping some of the vintage charm of this one painting the brick walls red and installing a theme (this one is Dr. Strangelove). Over all, like the locations I visited in Austin, this is first class operation.

Still I regret not getting to Central Plaza before they closed – I’ve been told much of the GCC charm is in tact :(

John Fink
John Fink commented about Plans fall apart for Manhattan Drafthouse on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:32 am

It does suck (although I would have likely been more apt to travel to Yonkers than the New Metro, all things being equal).

I was at Yonkers opening night and briefly suggested to Tim League they look into Headquarters Plaza in Morristown – which I think would have been an ideal spot (AMC is moving back with those great luxury recliners – which is pretty great news as well).

I’m hoping they’re behind the new Paramus Park 13 but suspect not as Alamo’s largest complexes have 10-screens each. Paramus Park would make sense as a more civilized alternative to GSP, which really should have been a 20+ screen theater (it, along with Clifton Commons and Rockaway is constantly packed…even on weeknights).

It’s worth noting iPic is planning a luxury cinema in Fort Lee, they seem like the kind of theater that might take over this project if the developers still really want a theater. And with their ticket prices ($35 in some markets verses Alamo’s modest $12 in Yonkers) the numbers might make sense for them.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Boyd Theatre on Oct 1, 2013 at 11:40 pm

For better or worse its now slated to become a luxury facility run by iPic Entertainment –

John Fink
John Fink commented about Studio Movie Grill Northwest Highway on Sep 12, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Now closed – or at least off the AmStar’s website?

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Ridgefield Park 12 on Sep 1, 2013 at 11:51 am

Opens Sept 20th – it will still have 12 screens, with one auditorium featuring Barco’s 4D sound system and an adult 2D evening ticket price of $10.00. Other future plans a press release mentioned was a bar and expanded concessions – – all and all, I hope they do this one right (the whole complex was in pretty shabby shape last we visited in April) – because if they do, they’ll take this place back to its former glory. Once upon a time this was the coolest theater in North Jersey, with a coffee shop and a motion simulator ride in the lobby – if anything they’ve got an awful lot of lobby space (perhaps they could later carve out a 25-seat micro cinema for indie films).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Empire 25 on Aug 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

Probably, that and the area is on lockdown after a certain point with security check points, etc – and once it reaches a certain capacity they close the street – thus, I doubt anybody would want to deal with the those crowds, just to see a movie one NYE.

(Then again you could be stopped and frisked anytime you’re walking down the street in NYC! – thanks Mike Bloomberg!)

The lobby (and those great outdoor patios) are taken over and I believe the NYE party offers a variety of packages, etc on each level – I believe a private organization rents the space from AMC.

By the time NYE rolls around I have very little energy to party truth be told, but I did look into this out of curiosity (I believe the package also included a pass into the secure zone should the NYPD close the area to the general public – those going somewhere were permitted in).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Movie theaters in airports unlikely on Jul 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Not sure this will take off (Pun Intended!) – surely a small multiplex or boutique theater might do well on occasion if there are heavy delays, but my experience is no one likes to spend more time than they need to in an airport so I’m not sure adding a 2 hour experience would be fun (especially if you’re checking an app to see if your next flight is going out on time). It might be fun to have a venue for short films with travel updates between films, but again many folks are traveling with entertainment loaded on their iPad, computer or phone (I know I load my iPad full of movies without nudity and excessive offensive images before a trip).

That and flying requires a lot of sitting – often not in great comfort: that last thing I want to do is add another 2 hours of sitting – I’d much rather go see a movie that night when I get into wherever I’m going.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Starplex Brunswick Square 13 on Jun 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Starplex has upgraded the auditoriums to digital projection and luxury seats (black leather recliners) – capacity has been greatly reduced, tonight we saw The Internship in an auditorium with 32 seats!

The lay out is pretty interesting – 1-4 on one side, on the other: 5-8 ahead and 9-13 to the right, comprising the old “Movies at Brunswick Square” subdivision of the original GCC. The theater still has a few GCC touches including the steel “curtains” in the lobby of the 9-13 side, along with a GCC style concession stand. Not sure if they have a picture window screen (I didn’t want to peep around too much) – but the bathrooms are original GCC in that wing… with much smaller doors and stalls. The letter (black on a white door) for the men’s room is still vintage GCC as well. Interesting complex!

The Ben & Jerry’s is gone, however the Nathins in the lobby is still there along with tables and arcade games. The D-BOX seats were removed with the addition of the leather recliners. Also to Starplex’s credit they lowered prices ($8.50 for full price adult evening admission). I’m happy they kept a few GCC things in tact for us cinema geeks!

John Fink
John Fink commented about Social media gets in on the pre-show on May 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Cineplex in Canada is leading the way on integrating social media, customer data, etc. They have the US beat and have a mobile app called Time Play.

The other app I dig (although not social media) is Cinemark’s MovieMode, which essentially bribes you not to touch your phone at any point in the film in exchange for a free small popcorn. Not a bad deal by any means.

John Fink
John Fink commented about North Park Theatre on May 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Great news is although it had been reported Dipson is closing it on June 6th, the building’s owner and a local restauranteur are planning on upgrading and restoring this beautiful cinema (which sadly isn’t in the greatest shape):

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC East Hanover 12 on May 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

It might have been Dec 17, 1993 – the first film I saw here was The Pelican Brief, potentially opening weekend of the complex.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Headquarters Plaza 10 on May 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Where was it reported East Hanover was sold and is closing? AMC Ridgefield Park just closed and the landlord sold the building/property to Starplex who is reopening it with upgrades, while AMC is indeed upgrading 80s and early 90s style properties like Headquarters and East Hanover with those comfy (p)leather recliners they have at Cinema Suites. Leather recliners seem to have gone from high end luxury theaters to mid-market multiplexes in only a few years.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Bay Plaza 13 on May 21, 2013 at 10:28 am

I doubt this is an actual picture of this theater….

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Headquarters Plaza 10 on May 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

It’s been granted a stay of execution with Clearview running it on a week to week basis for the foreseeable future.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Allwood Cinemas 6 on May 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

Good news is they’ve signed a lease with a new operator! (Unnamed but they operate several theaters throughout the country….I have a guess….)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Berlin 12 on May 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Rave is getting out of the movie theater business – they’ve sold off sites to Carmike, AMC and many of the former National Amusements sites to Cinemark (the sale is still pending, my guess is its tied up for DOJ reasons as they overlap in Ohio). Not sure why this one went to Starplex, but as Starplex usually does, they’ve lowed prices ($7 adult admission).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Berlin 12 on May 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Now owned by Starplex

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Ridgefield Park 12 on May 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

This will be Starplex' second try at North Jersey (they sold off Columbia Park which they inherited briefly from Interstate/Cinemark) – I like the concept is lower prices and luxury amenities, and I think with a remodel they could turn this place into a real competitor to Garden State and Edgewater. (The AMC Dine In Theater concept seems to be paying off – Essex Green is frequently sold out on weekends, if there was a market in the country for a higher end movie experience it’d be Bergen County, having new competitors in the market that improve complexes like Starplex and Bow Tie do, is going to be great for moviegoers).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Seeking thoughts on a theater membership concept on May 10, 2013 at 8:06 am

MoviePass is starting to understand this data and track it in a way that makes sense – the other company you may look at is Cineplex in Canada which has a loyalty system tightly integrated with other customer transactions (including online downloads, and perhaps financial data as some loyalty cards are linked to Scotibank credit cards). I personally hate a monthly fee unless it was providing value: MoviePass sure does, whereas AMC Stubs….I don’t know why they care so much about my $12. I never get why companies nickel and dime you over $12 when there’s thousands of dollars to be made: they should provide one level for the general public and another (perhaps with a special card like Regal does) for the ballers who frequently come out. I’m all for anything that will inspire frequent movie-going, this is what exhibition needs.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Xscape Theaters 14 on May 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm

The site was going to be Kerastoes then I think Bow Tie was developing it for a while – then Great Escape. Digging through the site its owned by Alliance Management, Great Escape’s former parent company. The theater from their Facebook page looks an awful lot like the Great Escape (now Regal) theatre outside of Scranton.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Maple Ridge 8 on May 7, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I visited tonight for Oblivion – the left side is closed, they temporarily moved over the ticket counter, not much on the left side has been done thus far (the lobby remains in tact, but it’s now a “hard hat area”). This week and next only four films are on the schedule.

Maple Ridge as of late has seen some new businesses open up near AMC – on a recent Saturday night I observed quite a crowd (mostly UB folks) at the cafes and restaurants in the plaza next to AMC, which had been empty just a few years ago when I first moved to Buffalo. AMC, since the infusion of capital to renovate theaters (from new owners Wanda Group) has been refreshing older theaters with these leather recliners. It appears this is AMC’s new business model: smaller and more luxurious complexes. I think the leather recliner may soon become the new standard, the way (p)leather seats have gone from a premium theaters like The Bridge (now Rave 18) in LA to a standard feature at a theater like Dipson Flix.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Bow Tie Cinemas to acquire Clearview on May 1, 2013 at 7:04 am

It’s great news – I’ve visited a few Bow Tie locations in CT – including their first “Criterion Cinemas” in New Haven (in its first 5-screen configuration) and found the theater and service to be first rate.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Regal faces boycotts as cuts employees hours to avoid Obamacare on Apr 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Oh in Buffalo, NY Regal is pretty good – always clean, the picture is sharp and in focus (better now I hate to say with digital, but they’re in large part doing it right including removing the Real D polarizers for 2D) and staffing levels most nights seem okay. On weekdays quite often its just managers. Now I should admit I see about 250 films a year in theaters – I’ve had some issues here and there but on a whole Regal is decent. Carmike I’ve noticed has the highest prices of any of the big chains (I think)