Owners of Celebration Cinema Crossroads reveal plans to upgrade seating

Owners of Celebration Cinema Crossroads reveal plans to upgrade seating

PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Friday, the owners of Celebration Cinema Crossroads, in Portage, revealed big plans to upgrade seating in the theater.

The news comes one day after the nation's largest movie theater operator, AMC announced plans to open a theater at the old Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kalamazoo.

The plans are to replace every seat in this theater, with a recliner seat. The movie theater's general manager, Todd Hiler, says plans were in the works for months.

This concept has also been popular with the AMC movie theater chain.

Later this month, crews will begin to remove seats inside the 14 theaters at Celebration Cinema Crossroads.

"All the theaters are switching to high back comfortable chairs," Hiler said. "We will actually be combining two rows of what are now regular seats into one row of new reclining seats."

Hiler says the plans call for 894 fully reclining seats to be installed--less than half of the 2,400 seats they currently have.

"It seems like that doesn't make sense. That taken a percentage of your seats and attendance grows, but we found in other markets that attendance actually grows," he said.

The project is expected to be complete in the fall. The seats have already been introduced at five other Celebration! Cinema locations, including in Grand Rapids.

"It's been well received and people love it," Hiler said.

With the push a button the seats become fully reclined within seconds. There's also room for your food, and flip up the arm rest and it turns into a love seat.

The concept excites movie-goers like Dave Buskirk and his wife.

"The comfort. Just like sitting home and watching the TV," he said.

But soon they'll have other options.

"We did go downtown for awhile and will go back downtown to check it out," Buskirk said.

AMC is planning to open its new 10-screen multiplex in Kalamazoo by late fall, with full-theater renovations beginning this week--including AMC's "signature reclining seating."

Hiler hopes to keep up the competition.

"With the competition coming in the area, it always impacts business in the area a little bit. But we give great new movie options for viewers in Kalamazoo and Portage," he said.

Andrew Haan, of Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated, says it's a good thing to have two competing movie theaters with updated amentities.

"I think healthy competition is good. Absolutely. Having an opportunity to have every movie-goer in the area to have a better experience," he said.

For a movie-goers, it's a win-win.

The company is looking at ways to allow people to order food and drinks from your phone, and have delivered to your seat in the theater. But those plans are still in the works.