AMC reserved seating

You’ve been here before – dinner ran long or the babysitter was late or you made the mistake of binging just one more episode of something on Netflix and suddenly you’re late for your movie. You arrive at the theater with minutes to spare…only to find that tickets are sold out. And if they’re not sold out, the only empty seats in the theater are to the far left in the front row, a location that is not ideal, to say the least. You know, total nightmare scenario.

But this particular predicament may soon become a thing of the past, as AMC Theaters has announced that all of the chain’s New York City locations will soon adopt a reserved seating model where ticket buyers can select the seat of their choice when they buy tickets online.

This is a big deal because AMC is the second biggest theater chain in the country (and will soon be the biggest theater chain in the world) and New York City is a massive market. Once this catch on, and it will catch on, you can expect to see it spread far beyond the 125 AMC theaters that already utilize reserved seating.

Here’s the official statement from John McDonald, executive vice president of U.S. Operations for AMC (via Mashable):

As we look at markets where we can begin to make reserved seating prevalent, there’s no better place to start than Manhattan, where a trip to the movies often means a subway or cab ride. Reserved seating lets moviegoers pick the exact seat they want when they make their movie-going plans and provides our guests with the confidence that their specific seat will be waiting for them when they arrive at the theatre.

And this is the part of the article where I tell you that I’ve been living with reserved seating in my local theaters for some time now and I can’t imagine going back to the dark “free for all” days. As a regular at the various Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin, I’ve been using the company’s app to buy tickets and select my ideal seat every since they went all-in on reserved seating a few years ago. I can arrive ten minutes before the movie starts and not have to worry about getting my favorite spot. The days of showing up to a Friday evening screening of a major movie an hour early to guarantee a good seat are a distant memory. I will yell about the advantages of reserved seating until my voice gives out, I love it so.

Of course, AMC will face some initial blowback from some customers (the Drafthouse dealt with some very loud opposition as well), but once people get in the groove of this system, I have a hard time imagining anyone wanting to return to the old way. The future of movie theaters involves more comfortable seating, better food, stricter no-talking rules, and the ability to grab your fourth-row aisle seat three days in advance. Welcome to the future.

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