Local Business

LITH theater gets makeover

Renovation will add comfortable reclining seats, lobby bar to AMC theater

Recliners will be added to the AMC Lake in the Hills 12 theater as part of a renovation project. This photo  shows the chairs at another theater where renovation work has been completed.
Recliners will be added to the AMC Lake in the Hills 12 theater as part of a renovation project. This photo shows the chairs at another theater where renovation work has been completed.

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The AMC Lake in the Hills 12 movie theater is getting a makeover that will add oversized luxury recliners and a bar.

The upgrades are part of a renovation project that includes improvements to the theater's lobby, concessions, auditoriums, and restrooms. Work has already started.

"We're bringing the comfort of the living room to the movie theater," AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan said. "You want to be able to put your feet up when you're watching a movie."

All theater seats are being replaced with recliners, which take up more space than traditional seats. The number of seats in each the facility's 12 movie theaters will be reduced by more than half. Once completed, the complex will have 1,030 seats, down from 2,694, according to plans submitted to the village.

"We've found that attendance goes up even though seat count decreases," Noonan said. "Every seat is now the best seat."

AMC will implement a reserve seating system to allow patrons to buy tickets online and reserve seats without waiting in line. AMC hasn't yet determined if ticket prices will increase after the renovation, Noonan said.

An expanded concession stand will offer more food and beverage items. Among the additions is a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. The self-serve drink station offers more than 100 different options, including favorite Coke products in a variety of flavors and some beverages that are exclusive to the machine.

The Lake in the Hills complex, located at 311 N. Randall Road, will also be repainted and re-carpeted. A bar and lounge with tables will be added to the lobby.

The Lake in the Hills Village Board recently approved a liquor license for the theater, which will allow AMC to add the full-service bar, called MacGuffins. The name is a nod to director Alfred Hitchcock, who coined the term "MacGuffin" to describe a common plot device used to drive action (such as the briefcase in "Pulp Fiction").

Those 21 and older will be able to purchase a drink at the bar and bring it into the theater.

AMC, which has interests in 344 theaters in the United States, has rolled out the bar and lounge concept in 33 theaters, including Randhurst 12 in Mount Prospect and River East 21 in Chicago.

Movie theaters have struggled with declining ticket sales for years. Chains have consolidated and shuttered underperforming theaters, according to a report from Moody's Investors Service in January.

"Despite an increase of about 6 percent in movie theater admissions last year, the overall trend is negative," analyst Karen Berckmann said at the time. "Attendance peaked at nearly 1.6 billion in 2002, helped by Spider-Man, the year's top-grossing film, but given the competition for consumers' screen time, from texting to Netflix to web surfing, we do not expect a rebound to that level."

In recent years, more theaters have gone upscale by adding tricked-out reclining seats, gourmet food, and alcohol. The iPic Theater in South Barrington is an example of this trend. AMC has 11 Dine-In Theaters that offer a movie theater restaurant experience.

The AMC Lake in the Hills renovations are scheduled to be completed by mid-summer.

Similar projects at other theaters have been well-received.

"People love it – it gets them excited about coming back to the movie theater," Noonan said. "We're excited to be able to bring this to Lake in the Hills."

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