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AMC spending $600 million to add recliners to movie theaters

AMC spending $600 million to add recliners to movie theaters

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Despite shifting to digital, pushing 3D, and raising ticket prices, the movie industry hasn't seen much growth in the last decade. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), last year's box office only rose one percent as compared to 2012, and theaters face tough competition from the likes of Netflix. To get moviegoers to fill more seats, AMC Entertainment is spending $600 million over the next five years to outfit 1,800 of its 5,000 auditoriums with La-Z-Boy-style recliners. And the strategy is already working.

The Wall Street Journal reports that AMC is renovating theaters in struggling markets as a means of getting people to come back to the movies. The renovations themselves are costly, running between $350,000 and $500,000 per auditorium. What's more, adding the bigger, comfier seats reduces seating capacity by up to 70 percent. Still, the work seems to be paying off; while the theater chain wouldn't give hard numbers for attendance before and after the renovations, AMC says that attendance rose an average of 80 percent.

Nicer bathrooms are next

AMC isn't yet charging extra for the new amenities, but ticket prices will indeed go up a year after the renovations. The strategy is starting a shift, too; Regal Entertainment is now ramping up its own renovation process by adding recliners in 25 of its own theaters. However, more costs are surely on the way. CEO Gerry Lopez told the Journal that theatergoers have started to expect nicer bathrooms in addition to the nicer seats.