It’s hard not to be wooed by the chic lobbies, big fully reclining chairs, and in-theater waiter service at the new luxury movie theaters around the U.S. But, for families, are they worth the extra money?
I’m on the fence about it.
My kids and I recently saw a movie at the South Barrington, Ill. iPic, a luxury movie theater chain. We went on New Year’s Day, when the weather was terrible and I was desperate to find someplace for us to go. Desperate enough that I coughed up $80 for us to see “Monsters, Inc. 3-D” and have a snack.
The tickets for our three deluxe seats — which we got to choose in advance, online — were $55.50 (that was the discounted price, because I joined their free club). It included popcorn, but not the $11 mozzarella sticks I ordered from the waiter inside the theater. (plus tax and tip).
The darkened space was half sports bar, half modern restaurant. A hostess took us to our seats in the theater, after we walked past the pool tables, fast-casual restaurant, and an area filled with digital wine dispensers.
Ridiculous, right? And a total ripoff? Not a place for kids?
I wasn’t impressed by the cleanliness of our deluxe seats. For $55, should I have to brush popcorn off the chair and blanket? The kids were gasping with excitement over everything, but I was silently bemoaning how ridiculous it all was.
Then something strange happened: I started liking it.
We put our seats in full bed-like recline, covered ourselves in the provided blankets, and watched the movie. It was more comfy than watching a movie together at home, and definitely better than regular movie theater seats. I even snuck in a quick nap at one point. Our nice waiter brought us large waters with straws.
Not only did I start liking it — I started rationalizing the expense. Really, wasn’t this added comfort, service and atmosphere worth an extra $20 over what I would have spent at a regular theater?
For every trip to the movies? No. But for a special day out? Absolutely.