Think King Kong versus Godzilla – AMC Town Center 20 versus Cinetopia Overland Park 18 -Kansas City’s 800 pound gorilla versus the upscale, upstart from Beaverton, Oregon.
For two weeks now Cinetopia has been ushering forth in the local movie marketplace with soft openings at its spanking new movieplex at the ritzy Prairiefire shopping and entertainment complex near 135th and Nall.
And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t get much grander than Cinetopia with three different levels of upscale auditoriums and – at long last – in-theater dining options that transcend glorified fast food. Meanwhile back at Town Center, AMC has spent seven figures improving its plex with more food options and roughly 40 percent fewer seats in order to make room for recliners with more legroom.
So the battle lines are drawn.
The latest: a fight to the finish over which plex gets the major new studio releases like, you know, Godzilla
“It’s interesting that both new major releases are advertised as opening next week at Cinetopia but not at Town Center,” says KCC movie guy Jack Poessiger. “Could this be a sign of things to come?”
Whatever it is, it’s huge and well could backfire on AMC’s. More on that later.
“Cinetopia has the new X-Men movie and Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore – so they’ve got both of the big movies opening next week,” says an industry source who asked not to be named. “And it appears AMC will not be playing those movies at Town Center because AMC is taking a stand that it will not play movies that Cinetopia plays. I’ve heard that they are determined to try and force the film companies into allocating the movies – splitting them between Town Center and Cinetopia.”
A check of both websites shows that moviegoers can buy advance seats for X-Men and Blended at Cinetopia but not at Town Center.
A glitch perhaps?
Perhaps not, since AMC’s Studio 30 Olathe has both movies listed for next weekend.
As for what ultimately may happen, “It’s up to the film companies to decide what they’re going to do,” says the source. “But if they go to an allocation system with 50 percent of the new movies at Town Center and 50 percent at Cinetopia, that would leave Dickinson’s nearby Palazzo with 100 percent of the new movies. So Dickinson could be the big winner if they split the movies between Town Center and Cinetopia.
“And Dickinson just went to a new pricing system with lower ticket prices and $1 popcorn. So if you’re not going to go for the glamor and all the bullshit, it’s a big savings at the Palazzo.”
Incidentally, for the record Cinetopia is a bit more than two miles from Town Center, where the Palazzo and Town Center are nearly five miles apart.
Once upon a time, AMC wasn’t afraid to go what they call day-and-date – toe-to-toe – with anyone.
“Basically, AMC used to take an attitude of we’ll play all the movies and compete against anyone because we have a better mousetrap,” says the source. “But that’s all changed since AMC CEO Gerry Lopez came in. Now AMC plays hardball.”
By passing on movies like X-Men and Blended, AMC is effectively sending its Town Center customers to check out its fancy-schmancy new competitor. Not exactly a smart business move.
That said, soft openings aside, chances are the lines to get in could be long and very slow at Cinetopia with the confusion almost certain to unfold at the box office with three different levels of auditorium seating, dining and pricing options – all of which will be in need of explaining to first time moviegoers. Might that leave a bad taste in the mouths of people who might miss the start of their movie?
Speaking of pricing…
“Cinetopia will have the highest priced tickets, AMC Town Center will be slightly lower and Dickinson will have the lowest, plus dollar popcorn,” notes the source.
And talk about confusion, with three different levels of auditoriums, weekday, weekend, early bird and 3D, Cinetopia’s ticket prices are all over the map. To the point of being overly confusing. Alamo Drafthouse made and then remedied that same misatek, you may recall.
Since Town Center doesn’t appear to be playing X-Men, tickets for its primetime 3D screening at AMC Olathe (non-dining) range from $7.50 for kids to $13.75 for adults.
Or you can see X-Men 3D at the Palazzo at 7 p.m. for $9 (children) and $11 (adults).
Take your pick.
And tale my advice and buy your Cinetopia tickets in advance because it could be a bumpy ride at the box office, especially on the shakedown cruise next week.
May the force be with you…