By: Jackson Kellogg
The movie-going experience at Cinemark Mesa 16 has been upgraded with the installation of electric-powered Luxury Lounger reclining seats in most of the auditoriums.
The theater is one of five owned by Cinemark to undertake the reclining-seat renovation, according to Bryan Jefferies, marketing director for Cinemark.
“The original thought behind the Luxury Lounger is the desire to constantly upgrade the experience for the customers,” Jefferies said. “Now that the films are all presented in digital picture and sound, it’s a logical step to improve the next part of the movie-going experience; the seating for the customers.”
The process is almost complete, with most of the theater’s auditoriums boasting Luxury Lounger reclining seats.
“The response has been fantastic,” Jefferies said. “Most people can’t believe how comfortable the seats are.”
The response to the seats has been varied, but most customers approve the change.
“I felt like I was watching a movie at home,” said Cristina Sanchez, a recent Cinemark moviegoer.
Each Luxury Lounger is designed with a cup holder and electric footrest.
Cinemark Mesa 16 opened their first Luxury Lounger auditoriums on Sept. 19. “We were surprised,” said frequent customer Andrea Graziani. “Pleasantly surprised. We come here all the time, but we didn’t know they had these new seats.”
“I absolutely love the chairs,” Tyler Sherman said. “Every Cinemark should do it this way.”
According to their website, Cinemark Theaters is the world’s highest attended motion picture exhibitor. They are the third largest theater circuit in the United Sates, with 332 theaters and more than 5,000 screens, but the Luxury Loungers will only be installed in select theaters.
“For a variety of reasons, not all theaters will be given the upgrade,” Jefferies said. “The fact that Mesa was chosen was a combination of the physical layout of the building and recognizing that Mesa, and Phoenix as a whole, was a market that would embrace this kind of an upgrade.”
Most moviegoers enjoyed the new seating experience overall, despite some complaints.
Some customers are concerned about the new reservation system, a unique feature of the Luxury Lounger auditoriums. Cinemark requires customers to reserve their reclining seats before entering the theater.
“The reservation system isn’t the best,” Sherman said. “There’s a lot less flexibility of where you get to sit. It’s harder to stay with your party if you come late.”
“They need to make sure people in the same party sit together,” Tara Williams said. “I guess they have that problem with any theater but it’s worse here since the reclining chairs make for less seating.”
The Luxury Loungers are broad, taking much more space than a regular chair.
“Even if the theater is packed, you still have a lot of room because the chairs are so big,” Sherman said.
Although the theaters seat fewer people, the ticket price has remained the same; Jefferies confirmed that the price for the reclining chairs will also remain the same.
“We think that’s part of the appeal of the Luxury Loungers. Being able to have this kind of a premium experience without having to pay a premium price,” Jefferies said.
“It’s hard to say whether or not the chairs have increased ticket sales,” Jefferies said. “We definitely get people asking if their movie is playing in the Luxury Lounger auditoriums. Soon, when the conversion is finished in all the auditoriums, that won’t even be a question.”
For many customers who have discovered the Luxury Loungers, Cinemark is a new favorite. Most people want to return because of the comfortable seating.
“This is our first time coming to Cinemark,” Nathan Sherwood said. “We agreed we would come back after tonight, because of the new chairs.”
“We’ve come here a few times,” Dirk Bottesch said. “Now it’s much more comfy, so we’ll definitely keep coming.”
“These chairs are permanent,” Jefferies said. “We hope to continue to install these Luxury Lounger chairs for as long as audiences continue to enjoy them.”
The Cinemark Mesa 16 Theater featuring Luxury Lounger reclining seats is located at 1051 N. Dobson Road.