For New Yorkers, going to the movies often means camping out for an hour before the show starts. Stragglers know that arriving late can be the difference between seeing the movie unfold in comfort and watching the action from the front row, with their necks craned uncomfortably heavenward.
“Growing up the rule I had with my friends was if you were going to go to the theaters, you had to get there an hour early or there’d be a huge line,” said Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango and a New York-based entertainment reporter. “Even if you got a ticket in advance, you’d have to get there a half hour in advance or you’d have the worst seat in the theater.”
That could change. Beginning Friday, AMC Theatres is offering reserve seating at all of its Manhattan locations.
The chain had allowed customers to call dibs on their recliners in advance in a few of its venues, but this is the first time it has offered assigned seating throughout a major market. It’s also the most extensive push into reserve seating yet in the Big Apple. New York City has historically been resistant to allowing reserve seating and most of the city’s major chains don’t boast the offering.
AMC and other theater chains have been looking for ways to bolster the movie-going experience at a time when the medium faces challenges from online entertainment and television is producing more, higher-end programming such as “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead.” The chain has renovated several of its locations, outfitting them with plush recliners, while modernizing their concessions and offering alcoholic beverages. The company offers reserved seating in 125 locations nationwide.
“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,” said John McDonald, executive vice president, U.S. operations, AMC. “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.”
Reserved seating will be offered at the following locations: AMC 84th St. 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, which is currently undergoing a renovation, will add reserved seating once the construction is complete later this fall.