Here’s a sneak peek at the renovated Park Terrace movie theater

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Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Observer
The stadium seating in each of the six theaters at Park Terrace has been ripped out and replaced with wide leather reclining chairs, complete with seat warmers. The beloved theater reopens Friday after a major renovation.

When they walk into the newly renovated Park Terrace movie theater, moviegoers may feel like they’re in an entirely new building. Sleek white tile has replaced the retro colorful carpet that once filled the lobby. The ticket box office has been removed, and automated ticketing machines now sit near the concessions. A full bar has been added to the lobby.

These changes are part of a multimillion-dollar renovation that the beloved theater at Park Road Shopping Center has been undergoing for the past five months.

The theater, bought by AMC last year, is reopening on Friday. Movie show times are expected to show up on AMC’s website on Wednesday.

AMC also put in new surround systems and movie screens. The concessions selection has been expanded to include specialty items like buffalo chicken flatbread pizzas, pretzel bites and caramel corn, along with lighter fare like fruit snacks and almonds. Moviegoers now get a reserved seat when they buy their tickets.

Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Observer
The concessions area at Park Terrace has been expanded to include specialty items such as buffalo chicken flatbread pizzas, pretzel bites and caramel corn, along with lighter fare like fruit snacks and almonds.

The stadium seating in each of the six theaters has been ripped out and replaced with wide leather reclining chairs, complete with seat warmers. A Wall Street Journal story from 2014 described the recliners as “La-Z-Boy-type seats.”

Each theater’s seating capacity has been reduced by about 50%, according to spokesman Ryan Noonan. The biggest theater, which will show the popular “Avengers: Endgame” movie when the theater opens, seats 110. The smallest seats 39 and can be rented out for private parties.

AMC has been making similar upgrades at its theaters around the U.S. to improve the customer’s experience.

“Instead of ‘How many people can we pack in?’ (our focus) became ‘How can we make this a great experience that people want to come out to?’ ” Noonan said on a tour of AMC Park Terrace 6 on Tuesday morning.

“This theater encompasses everything AMC has been trying to do for the last decade.”

The removal of seats and addition of other perks like beer and wine has been a boost for AMC’s business elsewhere: Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums surged 80% on average, despite the reduced capacity, according to the WSJ story.

Movie theater operators aren’t the only ones in the entertainment business focusing on quality over quantity.

In recent years, Charlotte Motor Speedway has removed some lower-demand seating areas and suites to make way for “premium hospitality and entertainment activities.” Professional sports arenas such as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indianapolis Pacers, plan to remove some seats to make room for large gathering spaces for fans, the Indianapolis Star reported this month.

Despite the added perks at the theater, Noonan said movie ticket prices aren’t much higher than they used to be. One adult movie ticket for weekdays before noon is $5.49, and weekday evenings are $10.99. Weekend evenings are $11.99, Noonan said.

Park Terrace history

Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Observer
The beloved Park Terrace movie theater reopens Friday after an extensive renovation.

The Park Terrace Stadium, as it was called for its 53 years in business, closed its doors suddenly in December 2017. Formerly owned by Regal Entertainment Group, the popular theater was well-known in the region for showing independent and foreign films.

AMC has said the newly renovated theater will instead show “the most in-demand mainstream titles each week,” at least at first. Noonan says that it’s possible non-mainstream films will be shown at the theater eventually, depending on demand from the community.

The 21,000-square-foot theater has been through other major changes in its more than half a century.

When the theater opened its doors in spring 1964, it was filled with features then considered modern and elegant: Red Formica paneling throughout the lobby, gold detailing, plush carpeting and luxurious theater seats complete with rocking chair springs.

The theater underwent a $2 million renovation in 1996 that included an expansion from three screens to six.

AMC has preserved one relic of the theater’s past: Its neon “Park Terrace” sign out front. But its all-caps “STADIUM SEATING” call-out has been removed, and AMC’s insignia has been affixed below where it used to be.

This article originally appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

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