The AMC theater chain is seeing strong revenue gains as it starts converting about a third of its 5,000 U.S. auditoriums to fully reclining seats.
It’s part of a $600 million revamp of the chain over the next five years.
The remodeled facilities will cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium — with AMC’s landlords picking up some of the cost — and remove between 50% and 70% of the existing seats.
The new seats are 36% wider — with two chairs occupying about 5 feet compared with the current 3-feet-8 inches.
AMC Entertainment Group, which was purchased for $2.6 billion in 2012 by Dalian Wanda Group of China, had disclosed the conversion program with plans to spend $600 million in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year.
AMC had converted about 25 of its auditoriums by November and another dozen by the end of the first quarter.
Despite the loss of seating capacity, attendance has risen by 80% and box office revenues were up by more than 60% at the 37 converted AMC venues during the first quarter, AMC’s chief executive Gerry Lopez told the Wall Street Journal.
The exec also noted that some of the revamped theaters have full dine-in capabilities, allowing moviegoers to spend a larger portion of their evening at the theaters.
Several facilities in the Los Angeles market have already been converted to the new format, including the AMC Montebello 10 and AMC Fallbrook 7.