AMC Remodels Movie Theaters To Have Big, Reclining Seats, But Fewer Of Them

Imagine that you’re a potential investor in movie theater chain AMC, which became a publicly traded company last year. Executives share their exciting new sales pitch: they’re going to make more money by selling fewer tickets to each show. Wait, what? How does that lead to higher earnings? Auditoriums that fit fewer patrons will have comfier, recliner-style seats.

Think of it as the exact reverse of airlines’ strategy: instead of cramming as many people in a small space as possible, AMC sees the possibility that they can instead change configurations and charge more for each ticket in the super-comfy section. This is great news for all kinds of people: it opens up theaters to people too large to fit in current seats, and also prevents children and adults with very short legs from kicking the back of your seat. (Sorry about that.)

The Wall Street Journal reports that this bold strategy is working out for the company so far. It costs about $350,000 to $500,000 to “re-seat” a single auditorium, and the company plans to reconfigure about 1,800 out of the 5,000 screens it currently has nationwide over the next five years. This will cost a total of $600 million, but the company doesn’t plan to raise ticket prices for the super-comfy screens for maybe a year after renovation. After that, the company says that ticket prices will probably go up a dollar or two.

If your local multiplex is routinely packed, don’t expect to see recliners there anytime soon. Re-seating will happen only in areas where AMC is having trouble filling all the seats, so you won’t see it in the country’s biggest cities.

Now at the Movies: Fully Reclining Seats [Wall Street Journal]