I’m talking about the AMC Ward Parkway 14 which in another life, in 1963 – became the first multiplex (twin screen) movie theater anywhere.
Its immediate success changed the way America would choose movie theaters and watch movies.
Decade later two screens turned into a dozen and additional screens on the ground floor of the mall were later added. And while AMC never gave up on the theaters, the complex had begun to show its age.
So what happens to older theaters having to compete against newer and fancier operations? Some are turned into so-called dollar or discount houses. Others just attempt to keep up with changing times in the hopes of they going on forever.
And of course, many fail.
And let me tell you right here and now, the future of movie going has arrived.
AMC pretty well gutted the auditoriums and, according to AMC spokesperson Ryan Noonan, reduced original seating by a minimum of 50%—and in some cases as much as 70% per auditorium. Talk about drastic.
The once typical theater seats were removed in favor of plush Power Recliners with foot rests.
You heard that right.
Just press a button and the seat automatically goes into motion and you stop it at your perfect comfort level.
And as for spacing between the rows? You couldn’t ask for more. Think in terms of flying first class instead of coach.
Oh, and there’s also a lobby bar.
Has the transformation increased attendance at the complex (even with far fewer seats)?
It’s more than doubled according to AMC’s Noonan, who tells me that the upgrade program is now being rolled out throughout company’s network of theaters.
Competitors have taken notice.
I’ve heard of similar transformations being in planning stages or currently in the process of being implemented in various parts of the country.
So what goes around—comes around.
The Ward Parkway Theater: Once it made entertainment headlines for twinning itself. And now, some 50 years later, for converting into the most luxurious motion picture complex in greater Kansas City.
That’s right, there is no finer movie multiplex here. Not even close.