Results are in from the first test of moviegoing’s newest innovation: reserved seating. Cineplex Odeon and MovieFone premiered it Nov. 14 in Manhattan’s 554-seat Chelsea West Cinemas. Survey says: Two thumbs up. ”People were tired of using their coats as seat holders,” says Howard Lichtman, Cineplex Odeon’s executive VP of marketing. If all goes well, the system will soon move to other major markets. But as with all openings, there were a few snags. The breakdown:
Procrastinators could stroll in seconds before a show and sit in their favorite section — even on the opening night of The Jackal, the No. 1 film in the country last week.
Bathroom and popcorn runs could be done without a partner to hold your seat.
Large groups were able to sit together, even if everyone didn’t arrive at once.
Lights stayed on during previews as people hunted for reserved seats.
Flashlight-wielding ushers sprinted up and down the aisles during the film.
Two sacred movie-house traditions — socializing in line and free-for-all seating — were lost.