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Luxury Theater Promises Cushy Chairs, Sushi, Booze

Cinepolis, which entered the U.S. market with a movie house in Del Mar, is coming to Laguna Niguel.

If Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas has its way, it will become the Disneyland of movie theaters, and Laguna Niguel its newest ride.

Next spring, the movie-going experience here will include high-back leather recliners, waiters and sushi. Plus a full bar.

Cinepolis, a Latin American theater chain, will take over the Ocean Ranch Cinema at the Ocean Ranch Center on Oct. 1. Edwards has anchored the center for 20 years.

According to Carlos Wellman, Cinepolis' managing director, Laguna Niguel will be the company's third theater in Southern California, following Del Mar and La Costa.

"We've been flying under the radar for a while now with this location," he said. "But we have signed the lease and ... we will be doing a complete revamp inside. ... We are presently working on the architectural details and obtaining permits."

Work should be completed in five to six months and the posh theater is expected to open in April 2012, he said.

Cinepolis plans to open four other theaters in the coming year, but Wellman would not elaborate on the locations. Wellman said the plan is to open between five and seven theaters in the next 24 months as a prelude to opening in other areas of the country.

"We are very particular on where we choose to put a theater," he said. "We chose Laguna Niguel because of its demographics and the amount of people in a 3- to 5-mile radius. In addition, this is a free film zone, meaning the competition is very low."

The only nearby theaters are the Edwards Imax in Aliso Viejo and the in Laguna Niguel, which typically features independent films.

"While we love the exterior of the Laguna Niguel theater, the inside really needs to be revamped," he said. "We're going to make it cleaner, sleeker and make the inside look as good as the outside.

“The movie business and large movie theater companies have lost the personalized touch, leaving a need for a premium movie theater experience. Most theater locations are rundown and dated. We want
to change that practice and provide a boutique theatre experience that’s memorable, enjoyable and fun for families.”

Cinepolis will screen new movies and blockbuster hits in seven auditoriums that will feature state-of-the-art digital equipment, HD, 3-D and Surround Sound technologies. Each auditorium will seat guests in custom-designed, high-back, leather recliners that offer 7 feet of space to lean back or kick up the footrest.

The seats will also come equipped with a waiter service button so guests won’t have to leave the auditorium to grab a snack.

The food menu will include standard movie fare, such as popcorn and candies, in addition to gourmet finger-foods, artisan sandwiches, wine and cheese. 

Pricing will be comparable to the average restaurant menu, Wellman said.

The venue will also host live-feed concerts, sporting events and more, he said.

"It is our goal to make the community feel like they are part of the movie experience," he said. "When you see a movie at Cinepolis, it's more of a social gathering. We're adding all kinds of new things and basically breaking all the rules."

Movie-goers can expect to pay between $13.50 and $18 a ticket.

"Yes, tickets will be more, just by a few dollars, but they are getting so much more," Wellman said. "Some people will complain about the prices. Others will come for just a special occasion, while others won't think twice."

He likened the experience to going to Disneyland.

"You don't go to Disneyland every day, right?'" he said. "You go for a special occasion or maybe once a year. But some people go as much as they want."

Cinepolis opened its first theater in Mexico in 1947 and has become the largest movie chain in Latin America and fourth largest in the world. Cinepolis developed its “VIP” luxury experience in 1999 and  ventured into several South American countries and India, but San Diego County is its first American presence.

Robin Barr July 27, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Interesting. They're revamping the theatre with the smallest, most uncomfortable seats in south County to what will be the most comfortable. I always avoided this theatre because of the seats. Yes, Laguna Niguel and neighboring communities Monarch Beach and Emerald Bay, are affuent but everyone is affected by the down economy. And it will only get worse next year, much worse. It will be interesting to see if this theatre will survive. I hope this and everyone's business, and jobs, will survive. Robin Barr, www.SaddlebackBuzz.com
Ellen August 12, 2011 at 03:38 PM
The current theater and Ocean Ranch has been a great safe area for local kids from the nearly dozen schools around Laguna Niguel. It was always very convenient and simple for our kids to go to an Ocean Ranch eatery then the movies, and it didn't cost $15 - $18 and you could use Regal Cinemas discount cards. Now all these kids will have to drive (or we parents will have to drive them) to Kaleidoscope and Aliso Viejo theaters because our traditional theater has been torn away. Very sad. Personally, I don't like the idea of waiters moving in and out interrupting my viewing of a show. And, for me, I am very happy with popcorn and the show -- when we want to have dinner, we go out. I'm sure there are people who think this idea is great but I haven't spoken to a single person who is interested in the new "theater experience".
debbie August 26, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Alcohol, waiters, and higher prices ughh! Forget about theater etiquette. I have been to movies with intoxicated patrons... no thank you.
Mike March 27, 2012 at 08:28 AM
Everybody is against the idea of serving food and consuming wines and spirits, but I see a lot of people sneaking food in the theaters, complaining about the sitting and asking for more amenities. But if you think about it, don't we sit comfortable in our homes, with a lot of people, friends and/or relatives consuming food and drinking wine watching a game, super ball or a movie, standing in front of a small TV (a lot smaller than the theater's screen)? A smaller TV means harder to concentrate and watch!? Why that doesn't bother you? What about all those people who eat in their cars?
Bud May 24, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I went to the Cinepolis in Carlsbad last weekend. I thought wow it's a lot to pay for a movie ticket, but after seeing all they have to offer there, it's quite unique! They have a full bar, they serve food, they have they snack bar and gourmet coffee's. The seats are electric reclining seats, that are so comfortable, and there is so much room to stretch out! It is worth the extra money for this experience! They have a button on each chair to summon a server to take your order and bring you food or drink to you while you watch the movie. Very clean and high class inside. And the lobby is great too! very open and comfortable!

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