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What Kind of Theater Experience Would You Like to Have in Wichita Falls?

IMAX - Drive-In - Studio Movie Grill
IMAX/Drive-in/Studio Movie Grill

In early June, Chris Koetter asked what should be done to Sikes Senter 10 movie theater.  The majority responded saying the preferred result would be to remodel the existing theater, with the second place option being the construction of a new theater outside of the mall.  Chris sent the results to Carmike Cinemas’ corporate office, and as of yet there’s been no response.  At the very least, instructions on what orifice we could stick the results in would have shown that they read your opinions.  As it seems likely the mall theater won’t be changing any time soon, let’s look at plan B and some possible replacements for the stinky, sticky theater.

With the rise of high-def televisions, Blu-Rays, and surround-sound systems, home theaters have been on the verge of replacing standard movie theaters for several years now.  To survive in the new cinematic market, theaters have to not only provide the movies people want to see, but give the audience a unique experience they can’t get at home.  These are some of the most unique experiences in theaters that could actually end up in Wichita Falls some day.


IMAX Theater

 
 

This seems to be the more likely possibility as IMAX theaters have been springing up all over the country in the past decade.  The curved screen offers the best possible view no matter where you sit (unless its 3D and then center is your best bet).  But IMAX also provides the best possible picture, the theater equivalent of having the the best 1080p HDTV at home.  Depending on the location, the size of the IMAX screen can vary, being roughly the same size as a large theater screen, going up to several stories high and completely filling the viewing field of the audience.

 

Alamo Drafthouse

 
 

Originating in Austin, TX and mixing movies with restaurant-style food, the Alamo Drafthouse is the perfect theater for movie-lovers.  Aside from playing current films, the Drafthouse hosts various events like special advanced movie screenings followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, quote-alongs, and other audience participation events.  After starting in Austin, the Drafthouse has spread across Texas and in various other states in the country, turning the local business into a thriving chain.

The Drafthouse is also well-known for their strict etiquette policies, such as not allowing unaccompanied minors or children under 6-years-old, and banning talking and texting during the films.  Executives from the Drafthouse have acknowledged the alienating of some movie patrons by such strict etiquette rules, but have said that if people aren't able to remain quiet and off their phones, they don't want their business.  The Drafthouse famously turned one of their most upset former-customers into a commercial for their policies. (Photo credit: Alamo Drafthouse via Facebook)

 
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iPic Theater

 
 

Quite simply, iPic theaters are a luxury night at the movies.  As soon as you walk into an iPic theater you feel you've just walked into a 5-star restaurant.  Before your film you have the option to go to the bar and get drinks, or head over to their restaurant, Tanzy, and order a terrific dinner.  You also have the chance to check out a wine-tasting booth or pick up some candy before making your way to your theater.  A bit smaller than a major theater, an iPic theater is broken up into two sections.  The front rows offer highly comfortable seating and tables so you can bring your drinks and dinner in and eat during the film.  The back half of the theater is where the true luxury is, with regular theater seats replaced by full recliners, fold out tables, pillows and blankets, full waitstaff service from the restaurant, and complimentary popcorn.

 

Studio Movie Grill

 
 

Studio Movie Grill, compared to other movie/dining hybrids like Alamo Drafthouse and iPic, is the more mainstream experience.  Not favoring the movie buffs or high-end audiences, Studio Movie Grill is a great movie and dining experience for all audiences.  Theaters are arranged with a mixture of bar-style seating and two-seat tables, all with seating that would rival your favorite comfy computer chair.  Getting a menu as soon as you walk in, your waitstaff gives you full access to the bar and kitchen, and is there whenever you need them even during the film.  Want a refill on your drink or order desert?  All you have to do is turn on the red light on your table and a server will be with your shortly, discreetly taking your order without disturbing those around you. (Photo credit: Studio Movie Grill via Facebook)

 
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Originating in Korea, the 4DX theater has finally made it to the states.  4DX infuses high-quality visuals and sounds with other sensory features such as moving seats, scents, and mists, creating an engrossing cinematic experience.

 

Drive-In Theater

 
 

This may be simple, but its still a winner.  I've long since believed that, due to the then-impending drought conditions, the city should have closed down the water park, demolished it, and converted it into a drive-in theater.  The classic drive-in is almost extinct, but because of that people value and flock to the few that remain, such as the Graham Drive-In.  Going to a drive-in is a nostalgic experience many parents would love to share with their children, being able to watch a movie from the comfort of your vehicle, or even breaking out the lawn chairs and coolers and treating the experience like a tailgate party.

 
Credit: Ken DeSpain
 
 

The Canadian-based D-Box technology started with the film 'Fast & Furious', syncing the events on the screen to motion controls in the seats, allowing the audience to feel the action on the screen.  Unfortunately, due to the technology needed for such theaters, it limits the number of seats that can be in a single theater complex, with the highest number of seats being around 30 in some of the bigger theaters.

 

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