Manhattanites who hate having to show up early at movie theaters to find decent seats are about to have a new option that should attract the attention of the exhibition industry.
Beginning September 2, moviegoers will pick the seats they want when they buy tickets for AMC theaters in the borough, the chain said today. That makes Manhattan the first major market where nearly all AMC venues will assign seats.
“As we look at markets where we can begin to make reserved seating prevalent, there’s no better place to start than Manhattan, where a trip to the movies often means a subway or cab ride,” says U.S. Operations EVP John McDonald. “Reserved seating lets moviegoers pick the exact seat they want when they make their movie-going plans and provides our guests with the confidence that their specific seat will be waiting for them when they arrive at the theater.”
The change affects major venues including AMC 84th Street 6. AMC Village 7, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, AMC Empire 25, AMC Loews 34th Street 14, AMC Loews 19th St. East 6, AMC Loews Orpheum 7 and AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9.
The AMC Kips Bay 15 is in the middle of a renovation and will have reserved seating when that’s done this fall.
AMC already offers reserved seating at 125 locations across the country. It’s usually a feature in venues with its plush recliners, which charge premium ticket prices.
Early this month, CEO Adam Aron told analysts that reserve seating is a big part of his plan to boost sales.
For example, AMC’s testing a mobile app that enables ticket buyers to also order food and have it delivered to their seats when they want. The initial results were “encouraging and we would expect broad rollout sometime in the next three to nine months,” he said.
The company also wants to hold some of the best rows at reserved seating locations for those who pay $15 a year to belong to its AMC Stubs Premiere loyalty program. “Premiere members will truly be treated as welcome VIPs at AMC,” he says.
The nation’s No. 2 exhibition chain is controlled by China’s Wanda Group. It’s preparing to become the world’s largest with plans to buy UK-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas, and Carmike Cinemas.
AMC shares appreciated nearly 2% today, ahead of the overall market.