It used to be that movie-goers sought seats where the person in the row ahead didn’t block your view, you didn’t have to wrestle for the armrest, and your beverage choices primarily were soft drinks.
That’s changed, and two more Jacksonville theaters are investing a total of $2.6 million to follow the trends.
Dallas-based Cinemark USA Inc. landed a $2.5 million permit Wednesday to upgrade its Tinseltown seating with electronic recliners, while Regal Entertainment Group wants to invest about $113,000 to add a lobby bar at its Avenues location.
Theater chains have been adding the reclining seats and full-service bars to entice customers, who can relax at home and access movies on demand, through video-streaming services and DVDs dispensed through Redbox.
Because of the size of the recliners, seating at Tinseltown’s 20-screen theater at 4535 Southside Blvd. will shrink from about 3,700 to 2,100, plans show.
Eilerson Development Corp. is the contractor. The first phase will close eight auditoriums for remodeling, while the remaining 12 will remain open.
Bryan Jeffries, Cinemark vice president of marketing and promotions, said the project should be completed by late summer.
Jeffries said that in addition to the recliners, concessions will be expanded to include more choices, including beer and wine.
“These updates are a part of a companywide effort to improve the movie-going experience and provide a wider variety of options for our guests,” Jeffries said.
He said the Tinseltown theater was an important one in the company.
“And we want to make sure we continue to take care of it and its guests,” he said.
Bar coming to Regal Avenues Stadium 20
Regal Avenues Stadium 20 at 9525 Philips Highway wants to add a bar. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal also operates a 14-screen theater at River City Marketplace and an 18-auditorium location along Beach Boulevard.
Plans show a lobby bar with 11 seats.
A Regal spokesman did not respond to calls and emails.
According to Investopedia.com, major movie theater companies throughout the U.S. are adding amenities to fill seats amid lackluster ticket sales.
“These amenities create a unique experience for the moviegoer. Serving a meal, offering alcohol and luxury seating all present a compelling reason to watch a film in a theater as opposed to at home with Netflix,” said Investopedia.
Also, theaters can better justify increased ticket prices in locations with full-service amenities, it said.
Inclusion is the focus of JAX Chamber forum
JAX Chamber will present “The Business of Inclusion Forum” from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the Ritz Theatre.
The chamber said the forum will explore inclusion in the workplace as an economic driver, and the focus is to identify and create a pathway for women and minorities to achieve leadership roles.
Speakers include Kevin Dooley, Deutsche Bank’s head of HR in Jacksonville and in Cary, N.C.; Eric Mann, president and CEO of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast; and Sabeen Perwaiz Syed, CEO of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance.
The cost is $25. For information, visit myjaxchamber.com.
River & Post on track for summer opening
After winning City Council zoning approval, River & Post said Thursday it will proceed with development of its restaurant and rooftop bar at 1000 Riverside Ave.
The city approved the permit Thursday for Summit Commercial Group LLC to build-out the space at $1 million.
The property includes a ground-floor restaurant that will serve lunch and dinner, and the bar that will open for happy hour and dinner.
Anticipating a summer opening, work has started with new floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the first floor.
River & Post will offer a full-service restaurant with a chef’s table, banquet space and a pet-friendly patio on the first floor. The rooftop concept will include indoor and outdoor seating.
They total 450 seats and 10,300 square feet of space, with the rooftop venue accounting for 3,000 square feet. Hiring will begin this summer for more than 50 employees.
Managing Partner Jeff McCusker and investing partner Bob Fleckenstein signed the construction contract Monday.
River & Post said the menu features seafood- and steak-focused Southern American cuisine. The bar will feature craft cocktails as well as wine selections.
For information, visit riverandpostjax.com.