So on the 16th of December I was geared up to check out Mission Impossible: The IMAX Experience with the 7 minutes of Dark Knight Rises footage attached to the beginning. That full review is on the way but the overall experience at the Regal Opry Mills Theater requires some editorial attention. I typically go in a group to see films for review because I like to gauge trusted friends responses to the films. Those responses don’t change my feeling on a film but they can help with investigating varying perspectives, but, I digress.
So me a friend and one of the other writers here at the site decide to make the trip to the recently renovated (after a disastrous flood) Regal Opry Mills Theater for what we hoped would be a great night. Travis and I purchased tickets at the theater and were slapped with a whopping $18 price tag! That’s up $3 from when we saw Avatar in 3-D! Mission Impossible was not in 3-D but it does feature a lot of full screen IMAX footage, which I’ll discuss in that review. It’s hard to complain about prices because theaters will charge whatever they can get away with. This experience has taught me that, at least in the case of Regal Cinemas, the customer is the last thing on their list of concerns. I do have to say that this price must be taken into consideration in future reviews because there is something called “value” that’s worth discussing. Maybe there will be films worth the $18 admission fee, but that amount of money can still get you into live concerts and ball games so the level of comparison of value is a bit higher.
So, Travis and I purchase our tickets at the door and Mike (writer for CineGeek) decides to spend the extra greenbacks and grab the ticket from Fandango. He bought his ticket while we were having dinner on his snazzy new Kindle Fire. The site came up and asked him if he’d like to pick his seats. We thought that was odd but paid it little attention because nothing of the sort was mentioned to us at the theater when we bought tickets there. We arrive at the theater a few minutes before show time and are greeted sure enough by theater employees ushering us to specific seats! In a movie theater! Are you kidding? So, of course since Mike bought his ticket separate from us he was forced to sit separate from us. When we questioned this process the employee advised us that the information is on the theater’s website. So, in what world do we exist where most of us would ever visit the website for a theater? Most of us either use fandango or a phone app to check movie times and if we’re feeling like big spenders buy tickets in advance. Even if we do visit the site regularly is that truly the response you want to give a customer? On that note, the show times on the internet wouldn’t even update until the day of the show by the way. We were also told that it’s plainly noted on said website that this showing featured reserved seating. I checked later that night and the only show with reserved seating listed was a 1am showing.
So we settle into the theater, sort of. People are being forced to bounce around the aisles to excess because they are all looking for the required seat instead of just grabbing an open seat. Still, the theater was calmed down in plenty of time for the film to begin. Did the film start on time you ask? Well no, it started 10 minutes late. Why? Who knows? If the answer is that there was some issue being worked out regarding seating well that should further prove to the suits that there’s a flaw in this system.
Post screening I went to the manager to discuss the situation and his response was “Well some people like it.” He also said that we should have been told at the ticket booth that “we can offer you the best possible seating”. Well, we were told nothing of the sort and his response to us was that he didn’t believe us. It’s at that point that I told him I wasn’t interested in a free ticket at this point so I had no reason to lie.
This whole experience leads to one simple fact: don’t go to IMAX films. What you get doesn’t balance with the hassle of simply trying to sit together and paying the huge ticket price. On top of all of that the staff at the Opry Mills Theater in Nashville is equal to nothing less than an epic failure. This all goes back to the “value” proposition. You’re paying an above premium price and you can’t even sit with your friends. Or can you? It just won’t be clear unless you remember to visit the theater’s website. In order to sit together you will have to make one person responsible for buying all the tickets, similar to the way many of us have for concerts, or you all have to buy the tickets at the counter at the same time and hope the couple at the next booth isn’t buying two tickets right in the center of your group because these are the exact seats where they had their first date and they just can’t see a movie sitting anywhere else in the theater now. Regal seems to be hoping to treat going to a movie on a Friday night like going to a concert. That’s a bad move because people generally see way more movies in a year than concerts. If that’s the direction we’re going then there will be fewer and fewer trips to the IMAX.