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Not just movies: More and more luxury theaters popping up to provide high-end extras

Johnny Diaz
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel
Now playing in South Florida: the luxury movie theater boom

Coming to a theater near you: more luxury options.

A few years ago, movie theaters began upgrading their offerings as a way to appeal to customers who increasingly have been drawn to at-home viewing options. Since then, theater companies continue upping the ante, attempting to pamper guests (that's what movie patrons are called these days) with oversized reclining seats, some in leather, a full bar, eclectic entrees and, in some cases, in-house restaurants.

What once was rare has now expanded throughout South Florida, with more such theaters planned in 2017.

What's the best way to experience this class of new high-end cinemas? Here's a little primer on what to look for beyond the big screen.

Landmark Theatres

The decor really stands out at the Landmark at Merrick Park in Coral Gables.

The main entrance has the look and feel of a posh high-end hotel lobby, with black-bricked walls, gray-tiled floors and a full bar. There is a concession stand with a marble countertop and bar tables with red leather seats. You may just want to hang out here after work, regardless of whether you're catching a flick. That upscale look can even be found in the restrooms.

The national luxury movie chain opened its seven-screen location Dec. 16 at The Shops at Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave. This is the first Florida location for the national luxury movie chain known for presenting independent films as well as mainstream fare with upscale extras. Among them: cozy auditoriums that can seat fewer than 100 people; electronic, teal and red leather seats; wooden floors; and Dolby 7.1 surround sound.

"We built a traditional movie theater with high-end amenities, and I think there is a group of people who want to see a movie in that way and not in a dine-in, which is what most of the other luxury movie chains do," said Ted Mundorff, president and chief executive officer of Landmark Theatres, during a recent VIP opening reception.

"It's a smart market, it's an educated market, it's a moviegoing market, and we think that with our service and customer-friendly attitude that we will attract people to this beautiful facility. We give them a unique experience."

Tickets for adults range from $10.50 to $12.50. Visit landmarktheatres.com.

iPic Theaters

At iPic Theaters, it's all about the details.

The company touts itself as providing "the ultimate theater experience" — and part of that has to do with amenities such as providing a pillow, blanket and popcorn along with your reserved seat. That's the Premium Plus package (about $28), which also allows guests to order gourmet food (such as croquettes, filet sliders) and cocktails at the push of a button on their reclining leather seats (which also have mini tabletops).

In addition to its Boca Raton location, iPic Entertainment opened a North Miami Beach theater last year and has plans for two more, in Delray Beach and Sunrise, in 2017.

Because of their space and in-house restaurant, iPic theaters have become go-to rental halls for bar mitzvahs, corporate meetings, weddings and videogame tournaments.

Adult tickets range from $16 to $28. Visit ipictheaters.com.

Silverspot Cinema

One way Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek differentiates itself is through its holiday-themed menus.

Last year, Silverspot introduced a Chinese-inspired "Jewish Christmas" menu for $25 per person, complete with vegetable fried rice, Kung Pao style shrimp, sesame chicken and Lo Mein noodles to cater to movie fans who traditionally enjoy dining on Chinese food on the holiday. There were also pumpkin and apple pies.

The theater is offering the daylong menu again this year.

"We are trying to create a differentiation in the food offering ... nice burgers, outstanding lobster rolls and fish tacos, and you can have the food at your seat," said Francisco Schlotterbeck, chief executive officer.

Though he considers his theaters to be "sophisticated and elegant," Schlotterbeck balked at using the word "luxury."

"We are the business class in the airline industry, if you want to compare," he said.

Silverspot Cinema plans to expand with a venue in downtown Miami in June 2017 and another location in the greater Fort Lauderdale area within the next three years, said Schlotterbeck.

Like other featured theaters, Silverspot also offers reclining chairs and Dolby surround sound in the larger auditoriums. Its in-cinema restaurant, Trilogy, serves up small plates (pork meatballs) and main plates (lobster rolls, fish tacos). Next year, the restaurant plans to offer menus for other holidays including for Thanksgiving and Easter.

"At the end of the day, people want to see a movie in the perfect place. Our promise and our responsibility is to create that special experience," he said, of the theater's amenities.

Adult tickets range from $9.75 to $14.50. Visit silverspot.net.

Cinepolis USA

This Mexico-based theater chain also offers a premium service with reserved seating, oversized rocker seats and swivel tray tables for sandwiches and drinks from an in-house bar and restaurant.

Another bonus: employees who happily point to where your seat is and escort you there as if you were attending an opera.

South Florida locations can be found in Deerfield Beach, Jupiter and Miami's Coconut Grove.

The Coconut Grove venue has been known to host events from the Miami Film Festival and special documentary screenings.

“We take great care to create a space where guests feel pampered before, during and after watching a film, with incredible service, sophisticated and approachable decor, and enhanced concession offerings,’’ said April Mendoza, Cinepolis USA’s vice president of sales and marketing, in an email. “On a local South Florida level, our Jupiter, Deerfield Beach and Coconut Grove theater locations offer selections of gourmet concessions – such as Sriracha BBQ Chicken Pizza, Havana Panini and Mango Pork Tacos – beer and wine, and online reserved seating.”

Adult tickets range from $8 to $20.50, depending on the location. Visit cinepolisusa.com.

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