Everything old is new again.
That would seem to be the philosophy of corporate theater giant Loews Cineplex Entertainment, which opens its new 16 screen Loews Theatres Alderwood in Lynnwood today.
The long-maligned cineplex gets a chance to redeem its image with moviegoers who venture into the new theater. This is not the multi-screen theater many of us have come to settle for when we go to the movies. The 80,000 square foot complex harkens back to a time in the 20th century when going to the movies was an event, an occasion to be savored. Movie theaters were built like palaces, a gilded frame for the flickering images on their screens.
By the 1980’s, a majority of these golden age movie theaters had been shuttered or converted into more profitable multi-screen complexes, which soon paved the way for the impersonal cineplex format. Short on charm or comfort, but long on lines for tickets, concessions and restrooms, for a generation of audiences the bare bones design of the cineplex has taken something away from the magic of the movie-going experience.
Entering Loews Alderwood is a step back in time, as well as a distinct step forward. A grand arched exterior entrance reveals an interior lobby of art deco grandeur meets 1950’s space age retro chic. The theater may be reminiscent of an earlier era of cinema, but the technology is definitely state-of-the-art. Each theater is equipped with wall-to-wall 35 mm screens and Dolby Digital Sound (DDS). Luring people away from their home theater systems won’t be too difficult with the “Reel” stadium style seating, which features oversized reclining seats and wide aisles.
Then there’s the expanded concession stand. All the traditional movie snacks are present, but there’s the long overdue addition of hot foods such as chicken quesadillas, tenders and sandwiches, pizza, curly fries and funnel cakes — foods that were selected, as John McCauley, Loew’s senior vice president of marketing &promotions said, “to be eaten in the dark.” Breyer’s ice cream and Starbuck’s coffee stands also serve up some alternative choices.
Among the major studio films opening at Loew’s Alderwood this weekend are “Miss Congeniality 2,” starring Sandra Bullock and “Guess Who” with Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac. Smaller studio films will also get screen time, including “The Upside of Anger” with Joan Allen and Kevin Costner and “Millions,” the new film by “Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle. Loew’s hopes to screen more independent films, said Rich Boynton, film buyer for Loews Cineplex Entertainment, “depending on demand.”