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In Movies & TV Commentary

Marcus Theatres completed a $50 million renovation to install lounge seats in many of its UltraScreen theaters.

Marcus rolls out new seats, sounds and rewards program

There's an energy in the room when more than a handful gather to take in the latest blockbuster or popcorn movie, and Marcus Theatres is spending millions on renovations to make that experience as enjoyable as possible.

That includes new lounging seats that were installed in a number of theaters before the summer film season kicked off with "Amazing Spider-man 2" last month.

"It's built for maximum comfort, where you can be very relaxed, watching from an inclined position," said Marcus Theatres' Bob Menefee.

The Marcus North Shore Cinema in Mequon and Renaissance Cinema in Sturtevant were the first two theaters to get the seats, which the theater chain is calling the DLX – DreamLounger eXperience. In addition to the recliners, the chairs are part of a state-of-the-art sound system with works with the large-screens (UltraScreen) in the multiplexes.

The UltraScreens are roughly three stories high and about 70 feet wide. The project also included the upgrade to Dolby Atmos immersive sound, which meant placing speakers in the front, back, sides and ceilings of the room.

"We had to build extended risers to get the seats another 24 to 30 inches higher when we installed them," Menefee told me as the chain went through its $50 million in renovations across the circuit of 55 theaters.

Now in June, the renovation project is close to completion, allowing for an enhanced experience for the number of new films that will make up the bulk of the summer season.

Rewards Program

After a few years of testing in a couple of markets, Marcus rolled out a loyalty program for its customers this spring in anticipation of the summer blockbuster season.

"We launched it in April and the response has been excellent," Menefee said. The Magical Movie Rewards program awards members points for purchases of tickets and vending items. Some of the rewards include special screenings, and the program allows for Marcus to build on other promotions like $5 Tuesdays.

"People can register online, or they can fill out a small form on an iPad that we have made available in the lobby," Menefee said.

In the program, every dollar spent earns one point. For every 100 points, the member receives $5 in rewards.

The points can be redeemed at the box office, concessions stand or at some of the other venues like the Big Screen Bistros or Zaffiro's, at the locations with those offerings.

Menefee also pointed out that the loyalty card members get other perks, like free online or mobile ticketing options, and it saves seating preferences in the theaters that have reserved and assigned seats.

The options and perks of going to the movie theater may have changed in the last few months, and are measurably more different than it was years ago. But one thing hasn't changed, and that is the delight of the spectacle. As we are able to consume media in so many different ways as the technology expands, there is still a crackle of energy one can feel in the shared experience.

It is nice to see that little part that makes the entertainment magical hasn't been lost.

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