With the advent of Netflix, On Demand and Amazon Prime, a host of movies and TV shows can now be streamed directly to your 50-inch screen at home. How can a movie theater possibly compete with comfy seating and a non-existent dress code? This is especially true when you consider that watching a movie at home has other fringe benefits, including a lack of strangers talking through the movie and kids to kick your chair. While you may still have to contend with chatty family members and wait a month or two before a particular movie becomes available, home viewing gives you a lot more control over your viewing experience, not to mention, it also gives you easy access to your favorite snacks at much lower prices.
Movie Theaters in Detroit
Movie theaters in the Detroit area and beyond have responded to the competition by expanding their concessions to include alcoholic drinks and/or pizza, donut holes, and more. They've also, for the most part, switched over to stadium seating. Other theaters have expanded into entertainment complexes that include IMAX theaters, arcades, restaurants, and even bowling alleys.
D-Box MFX Motion Seats
In some ways, theaters in the Metro-Detroit area are ahead of the curve in finding new ways to stand out. Consider, for example, the D-Box MFX Motion Seat, a chair that simulates the action on screen through choreographed movement. While Detroit was one of the first areas in the country to employ the technology, D-Box hasn't grown much beyond a couple of rows in a theater or two within a multiplex.
As of this writing, several multiplexes in the Metro-Detroit area -- Emagine Canton, Phoenix Theatres State/Wayne -- are in the process of revamping their theaters to include luxury seating. Well, granted, several multiplexes in the Metro-Detroit area already offered “luxury seating” in the upper rows of designated theaters. For a few more dollars a ticket, a moviegoer got a bigger, more padded seat with more elbow room and a table for concessions.
Given that many movies times now extend easily over the two-hour mark, seat comfort is more important than ever, which is perhaps one reason that practices employed by theaters on the coasts are finally headed Detroit's way. In addition to assigned seating, several theaters in Metro Detroit are redesigning their theaters to accommodate a luxury recliner for every moviegoer. Unlike the original luxury seating concept, every seat in the theater gets the moniker without a surcharge.
Emagine Canton has redesigned several of its theaters to accommodate these recliners. The chairs are still arranged on stadium-like tiers, but each tier is much broader and more highly positioned relative to the one below it. In fact, each tier has a broad walkway with handrail, which provides a lot more protection from getting jostled by other moviegoers as they find their seats or take multiple trips out of the theater for refills or a bathroom break. The walkways are so broad that they can still be navigated when the chairs' footrests are fully extended.
Review of the New Luxury Seating at Emagine Canton
The chairs themselves scream leather recliner and have just as much padding as you'd expect in a Lazy Boy. About the only difference is that you still have to share an armrest with a drink holder built in. That being said, the armrests are much broader and more substantial than their predecessors.
Unfortunately, the backs and footrests on the vast majority of the recliners operate in tandem rather than independently. This means as you push a button on the electronic console located on the inside wall of the right armrest to lift up your legs, your head and back will recline. If you're in the first row, the inconvenience of lying flat on your back in order to put your feet up may be negligible; but the set up doesn't work well in the higher seats. That being said, the new seating chart and recliners ensure a much more comfortable position amid a nicely sized personal bubble.
The Downside of Luxury Seating
While the assigned luxury seating eliminates the need to save seats, keeps latecomers from being as disruptive, and provides a very comfy movie-going experience, it, like anything, has some potential drawbacks. Here are a few after sampling luxury seating at Emagine Canton:
- The new seating design greatly reduces the number of seats available in a theater. The fact that movie attendance is generally down may be one reason theater owners are trading quantity for quality, but limited seating may result in a few more “sold outs” for a popular show.
- The control panel on each chair is lit up for easy access during a movie, but the light from the control panel can sometimes be a little distracting in an otherwise dark theater.
- The chair does make a whirling noise when you position it. For the most part, though, the noise gets lost in the theater's sound system.