Brandon, Florida -- Movie-goers do not need to wait in line to get the best seat for a movie anymore at a local theater. At Brandon's AMC Regency 20, movie-goers must reserve a seat in order to get into the theater.
Dozens of customers complained on Facebook about the new reserved seating. They said they did not like not being able to size up who they might sit next to once they were in the theater. Some also found some technical problems with it.
"I was trying to find my seat," said Kenneth Orr. "The numbers are so hard to find. They are little tiny dots on the arms of the chairs and older people- if you don't have your glasses on, you are not going to be able to read them," he said. "When the lights go down, it's next to impossible to find," he added.
However, an avid movie-goer, Jaunita Cook said she liked knowing her seat would be waiting for her when she walked into the theater.
"Not only do I love it, but it also stops movie-hopping!" said Cook.
Local movie critic Joe Bardi, from Creative Loafing has been a critic for five years and always sits in the same section of a theater to see a movie.
"I love the idea because I have waited hours to get my perfect seat, and that's generous compared to opening night movie-goers, but now I just would have to reserve a seat and I know I will have it when I get in," said Bardi.
Bardi said he has been expecting seat reservation policies to pick up everywhere, but he hopes that does not mean the prices will be higher for a reserved seat. For now, Brandon's AMC Regency 20 does not charge more. If you use the movie website Fandango, then there is a custom transaction fee, but that is there with or without the reserve seating.
"People like to be able to choose who they sit next to, and you are sort of lumped in," said Bardi. "But we have been doing this at sporting events and concerts for years, and years, and years so it always made sense to me that it would make its way to movies- which have stadium seating- so why not stadium ticketing?"
He also believes the trend will spread, but understands the reason why some movie-goers might deter themselves to other open seating theaters.
"It takes some of the spontaneity away," said Bardi. "You are going to have to do some pre-planning, like which movie you want to go to and which seat, because the fun for a lot of people is standing at the ticket window and seeing the board of movies and picking one. But a lot of that is fading away because of the movie websites that have those ticket options, and apps like Fandango...I think it's better than the cattle call that exists now."
AMC did not return our calls but it did respond to one of the Facebook complaints from an AMC Theaters Facebook Profile name with this:
"... It's not available (the reserve seating) at all of our theaters but some do have reserved seating. It can be helpful on busy weekends to buy the tickets early online and not have to worry about getting there early to get good seats or feel rushed through the concession line. If you don't like the seat you're in you can still change it at Guest Services if other seats remain but I understand what you're saying. I'll pass back your feedback- Beth."
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