What comes first — the movie theater or the film?
Would you choose a cinema because you like the ambience, the seats or the snacks, without knowing what’s playing? Or do you read a review or talk to a friend before deciding where to go and what to see?
Movie-going is changing. Across the country, developers are tempting folks with perks like blankets and pillows in plush seats and food that’s catered, ordered in advance, and eaten in the dark.
CMX is the newest entry promising a wow dining-and-watching experience, and hoping its centrally located address, 400 East 62nd St., just off First Avenue, will impress. The Mexico-based cinema chain has resuscitated the long-vacated Clearview Cinemas multiplex, which devolved into a self-storage warehouse.
Already many Manhattan theaters offer reserved, reclining seats. iPic Theater on Fulton Street calls itself “America’s premier luxury restaurant-and-theater brand.”
Downtown Miami, Florida, saw CMX’s 2017 first U.S. development. Reviews from the Sunshine State mention cutting edge audiovisuals, oversized reclining seats, and in-seat or gourmet concession dining options. There’s wine, and a lounge and bar area, and customers get to pre-purchase tickets and order food in advance.
CMX is a subsidiary of Cinemex, which claims it is the world’s sixth-largest cinema chain. Its entry into the United States market was facilitated by the acquisition of Cobb Theatres last year, bringing CMX’s screen count in the U.S. to more than 300, and transforming the company into one of this country’s major exhibition circuits. CMX has a vigorous development plan, including additional Florida sites as well as in New Jersey, Illinois and Minnesota.
The company is very hush hush about its new baby, tentatively set to open later this month. If the theater at all echoes reviews of CMX’s Brickell City Centre theater in downtown Miami, there’ll be lounge areas with giant TV screens, great for sports fans. Moviegoers will be able to enjoy games without having to buy a movie ticket. The seats in the main auditorium will be big and comfy, and they’ll recline. Somehow the in-theater service won’t be intrusive, and the food may be of the pizza and burger variety, but it will be good. Of course, the cost of the food will be extra, but the price of the movie ticket will include the popcorn.
The price of that ticket? CMX counts on folks being willing to fork over a few extra dollars for the advertised luxury experience. Don’t look for much information on their website. CMX asks you to trust you’ll be impressed.
Their Twitter feed is a little more generous, with photos of their burgers and shakes section and the Delicatessen Station. The food market, which looks like something you’d find in one of the larger Duane Reade’s, will be open to the public.
An employee, who was not authorized to speak for the organization, confided that one of the six screens will be saved for iconic revivals like “The Godfather.” He said CMX had great success with that Miami booking. He said that putting a first foot in New York City means a great deal to CMX.
Movie theaters stopped being a default destination years ago. Cinema owners are looking beyond upgraded projectors, sound that extends into the seating itself, and food ordered from comfortable seats. One London theater provides moviegoers with trays of mystery boxes with one-bite treats.
CMX Director Luis Castelazo has said that his aim is to give moviegoers an experience they can’t have at home — where they already have large screens and reclining seats. He touted the proprietary CMX App which caters to those who want to order ahead of time or from their seats, without having to wait for a server. And, he said, the CineBistro at some of their locations means patrons can enjoy a full meal and watch a movie at the same time.
The neighborhood could certainly use a new six-plex. On the other hand, it comes down to the films, doesn’t it?
The public is choosier now, with fewer films moving into the must-see column. But there are still good flicks around. Will folks opt for CMX just because it’s a sleek new venue if it’s not showing what they want to see? And as for choosing the CMX restaurant CineBistro as a stand-alone destination — that depends. After all, Manhattan has countless delicious dining spots.
CMX is promising to open soon, pending completion of outstanding city inspections. One employee said they’re targeting October 18. As of this writing, their website encourages advance purchase tickets to “A Star Is Born.” If you click to buy, though, there are no listed showtimes.