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AMC’s stadium-seat debut

Exhib set to open 16-screener in Burbank

AMC Entertainment, whose stadium-seat makeover of a Century City megaplex is still a year away, Friday debuts a new 16-screener in Burbank with movies including “The Hulk.”

A campy charity bash set for Wednesday will feature a different Kevin Bacon movie in each of the venue’s auditoriums. Proceeds benefit Earth Communications Office, a non-profit group active in environmental causes.

The new Burbank stadium-seater will replace a 14-screen venue across the street that’s less than 20 years old but lacks stadium seating. Elsewhere in Burbank, AMC operates a conventional eight-screener and a stadium-seat six-screener, both of which will continue to operate.

To date, AMC has managed to introduce stadium seating only in suburban L.A. locales, with other such sites including a recently added 12-screener in Anaheim’s downtown Disney development.

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The suburban emphasis is “not by design,” AMC spokesman Rick King said Monday.

King said the makeover of AMC’s current theater in Century City — a commercial neighborhood in the heart of L.A. — is “getting close.” A review of the project by municipal officials is expected shortly, he said.

Plans call for boosting the screen count of the shopping mall-based cinema to 16 from a current 14, though seating capacity would remain level. “It’s ironic that the company that’s been the leading megaplex operator in the country is only now bringing a stadium-seat megaplex to central L.A.,” King said.

Rival exhib Pacific Theaters recently opened a 12-screen venue with stadium seating in Culver City, and last year opened state-of-the-art 14-screeners in midtown L.A. and Hollywood.

AMC’s Burbank cinema will supplement its normal ticket-booth operations with automated ticketing through kiosks available 24/7 for walk-up purchases. The machines will also dispense tickets to patrons who call ahead to reserve tickets.

AMC’s nearby 14-screener will close permanently Thursday night. An announcement is expected soon about plans to redevelop the property for other uses.