AMC Theatres has finished a six-month, multi-million dollar renovation of the theater, located at 1805 N. Roan St. The facility revamp includes new menu items, plush recliners, new movie screens, updated sound systems and a MacGuffins Bar.
The company has also invested money in improving the building’s exterior, lobby, restrooms and equipment in the remodeled concession stand.
AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan said the company has received all the necessary licenses to open the bar in about two weeks with its full slate of options.
He said MacGuffins Bars, which appear in AMC theaters across the U.S., aren’t designed to operate like a neighborhood bar.
“It’s not designed to be a sit-down-and-let’s-drink-all-night bar,” Noonan said. “People are there to see a movie, and we understand that. Folks show up, maybe they want a beer, a cocktail, a glass of wine with their movie, but they’re there for the movie so the environment itself isn’t really conducive to a lot of return traffic.”
The Johnson City Commission passed an ordinance in June allowing beer in movie theaters, live theaters and at Pine Oaks Golf Course.
Some of the theater’s new food options, pulled from the company’s “Feature Fare” menu, will include macaroni and cheese with ground beef and crispy bacon, mini tacos with spicy chicken and cool ranch dressing, pretzel bites and gourmet popcorn with flavors like cheddar cheese or salted caramel.
The new reclined seating, however, could end up being the theater’s most popular new feature.
“Typically, I think when we do a renovation like this there’s a number of different things that go into it, but first and foremost what we found that people enjoy the most is the AMC signature recliner seating,” Noonan said.
Noonan said AMC Theatres has been rolling out these recliners over the last several years “to a massive amount of success.”
“The comfort that you can get from those recliners is incredible,” he said. “It’s really what kicked off this guest-focused revolution in the industry.”
In tandem with the new seating options, customers will now be able to reserve their seats ahead of time online, through the AMC mobile app or at the box office.
When AMC Theatres performs renovations that involve installing new recliners, Noonan said theaters will typically lose about 50% of their seating capacity while also experiencing a significant uptick in the popularity of the theater. According to prior Johnson City Press reporting, plans in March involved shrinking the number of seats at the Johnson City theater from 1,682 to 888 in order to make room for new recliners.
“Now you’ve got more people coming more often and fewer seats in the building,” Noonan said, “so reserved seating goes hand in hand with these kinds of renovations, and it’s another benefit that guests around the country have enjoyed.”
Noonan said there’s been a huge shift in the movie industry to put a greater emphasis on the guest, providing them with amenities that make them excited about coming back to the theater.
“The moviegoing experience is still very alive and well,” Noonan said. “People love coming out to the movies. It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else, and it’s been important for AMC and really for the whole industry to make sure we’re not just taking it for granted.”