AMC investing $4.6 million into Johnson City theater renovation, includes a bar

Zach Vance • Updated Mar 23, 2019 at 3:34 PM

AMC Theatres will invest $4.6 million into renovating the AMC Classic Johnson City 14 cinema at 1805 N. Roan St., with the finished product including a bar — even though the city currently prohibits drinking alcohol inside movie theaters.

The city’s alcohol ordinance currently prohibits any person from publicly drinking alcohol, wine, or beer in a theater. The Johnson City Board of Zoning Appeals can issue special exceptions for businesses in the B-2 Central Business District, but the AMC Johnson City theater is currently zoned B-4 Planned Arterial Business District. 

City Manager Pete Peterson told the Johnson City Press on Thursday that an amendment to that ordinance is being worked on to accomodate AMC’s plan to open a bar, or a “MacGuffins,” as the company calls it.

According to AMC’s website, a “macguffin” is a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock that refers to a plot device that propels a movie forward.

“Our specialty cocktails, craft beers and premium wines will be just the thing to turn this movie experience into a story worth remembering,” the website states.

Ryan Noonan, director of corporate communications for AMC, confirmed the renovation will also bring recliner seating to the theater, as well as other “guest-favorite” amenities.

According to a March 7 building permit issued to Illinois-based Leopardo Companies Inc., the facade of the 46,000-square-foot facility will be repainted and new exterior LED lighting will be installed.

Each of the building’s 14 auditoriums will have new carpet, lighting and sound drapery. New screens will be installed “where specified,” and all auditorium ceilings will be painted black, the permit says. The lobby, bathrooms and concession stands will also be overhauled.

With the installation of the “AMC Signature Recliners,” the theater’s total seating will shrink from 1,682 to 888 to make room for 392 54-inch recliners and 52 32-inch recliners. The new chairs will be completely reclinable.

Construction is expected to start soon. Noonan said the project will be completed in phases, and the theater will remain open to guests throughout the renovation.

“As we approach completion of the project later this summer, we’ll have more information about the changes and what guests can expect,” Noonan said in an email to the Press.

In 2017, the Johnson City theater was one of 400 facilities rebranded as an AMC after the company’s acquisition of all Carmike Theaters. 

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