Hearne: AMC Town Center / Cinetopia Showdown Fast Approaching

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Date night at Cinetopia

Wars can be a good thing…

Not the ones where people die. I’m talking about the ones that pit one business against another. Sometimes it can be in the form of a price war, other times a battle to see who can provide the best product or services.

And for the past several months local movie theater powerhouse AMC Theatres has been furiously readying it’s Leawood Town Center 20 to do battle this summer with formidable competitor Cinetopia and its coming-very-soon Overland Park 18 movieplex.

This one could get ugly, ladies and gentlemen.

And based upon my sampling of AMC’s redo,  Cinetopia may already be poised to win this war.


Having failed once before to make a go of it with reserved seating at its Town Center 20, AMC switched back again to reserved seating two weeks ago in all but its largest auditoriums.

In addition to that, the roughly half-completed makeover of its aging plex includes a prominent, new lobby bar that will allow patrons to party down in any of its theater auditoriums, not just the dine-in ones.

As a side note, it will be interesting to see the effect wide scale boozing has on moviegoing. Will there be bar fights? Complaints about noisy revelry by the text-and-I-may-shoot-you movie purists crowd? Will additional adult security be required so that the usual assemblage of low wage teenage ushers are not placed in the position of having to try and bounce unruly patrons?

In addition to the bar, more and higher quality food items have hit Town Center’s movie menu. Hot food items like Chicago Dogs, Philly Steak Sandwiches and waffle fries. And cooler refreshments such as ice cream cones and milkshakes – with almost everything “grab and go” – with the exception of custom made items.

CinetopiaNow let me tell you one place I think AMC may be in trouble and that’s with its plush new recliner seating systems.

At first blush, they look plenty comfy and there’s ample room to get in and out of your row so you can dash to the bar and grab a few more cocktails. However at 6 feet 3 inches tall I found it difficult to dial in a very comfortable seating position based on the limitations of the seats themselves.

For starters, depending upon how you set your seat up, it’s about a foot short of the mark in terms of providing a headrest. You need to dial in the exact “sweet spot” in order not to find your head bobbing back into an empty nothingness.

And depending upon how you configure your backrest, you may or may not be able to make your footrest extend as far up as you might wish.

Am I being picky? Maybe. And if you’re 5 feet 8 or 5’10” you may not have any trouble. However when you’re going up against a company like Cinetopia that is going to reportedly be swinging for the complete fences, why employ a seat system that falls short of the mark?

And speaking of that upcoming movie war, the guys at AMC told me they expect everything to be done by early May. Funny thing,  the construction dudes working on Cinetopia’s plex at Prairiefire at Lionsgate say they are slated to turn everything over to Cinetopia in early May as well.

Get the picture?

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