Island Cinema really makes its mark with all of the tangible items involved with going to the movies.
For years, the act of going to a movie in Orange County has had a tendency to resemble a study in controlled chaos than an actual pleasurable endeavor. The food choices are as predictable as they are unsatisfying. There are times where the kid kicking the back of your oddly lumped seat made the act of sitting in it more comfortable. And if you don’t arrive at that big premiere an hour or so early, you run the risk of getting a lousy seat. All of these negative items conspire to make you forget that once upon a time, attending the cinema was a rather elegant experience.
This concept of a more refined trip to the movies, however, is something that Newport Beach’s Fashion Island has not only remembered, but they have also begun to put it into practice. Such is the spirit behind Island Cinema, the new theater concept that opened at the legendary outdoor shopping center in December of 2011. While it comes at you with all the technological whistles and bells that you would expect from a snazzy modern theater – state of the art 3D, surround sound, and all the other stuff that makes whatever Michael Bay decides to blow up kinda fun to watch – Island Cinema really makes its mark by all of the other tangible items involved with going to a show.
Take their idea of seat selection, for example: Much like the ArcLight in Hollywood, Island Cinema offers assigned seating to their customers. This, of course, is great news for those of us who routinely spend a great deal of effort fending off younger, faster types in a battle to get the choice chairs in the middle of the auditorium. This is also terrific information if you view the notion of getting bombarded by twenty minutes of ads as a necessary evil that must be tolerated if you wish to nab a decent spot.
The chairs themselves are something to take note of, as well. Oversized, draped in leather, and equipped with enough spacious legroom to make Blake Griffin cozy, the luxurious seats bring the alluring concept of the “home theater” on the road. Plus, since the theater itself is only open to guests ages 21 and older (you’ll see why in a moment) you can fully relax in these luxurious chairs without having to worry about some bratty kid gearing up for his karate class on your backside.
Also, you will notice that each seat comes with large armrests that can accompany whole plates of food further enhances this vibe. This feature is quite important, because you will want to wrangle up some grub to bring into the theater. To say the food and drink options offered at the Island Cinemas go beyond the realm of popcorn tubs and buckets of soda is a grand understatement. Guests can order from a stunning list of food and drink options ranging from artisan sandwiches and hand-scooped ice cream to wine and beer. That’s right – you can enjoy actual, real-live adult beverages as you watch a flick, an option that can greatly enhance your movie-going experience in more ways than one, such as making that horribly reviewed, paint-by-numbers action flick your boyfriend dragged you to slightly more tolerable. While the presence of libations does mean that anyone under 21 is verboten here, it’s safe to say that this will also dramatically decrease the number of people texting throughout the film you are trying to enjoy. At least, one can only hope.
All of these elements that Island Cinema feature combine to serve as a reminder that the idea of going to the movies can still be a lovely, unforgettable experience. In a world dominated by theaters overrun by malformed chairs and hot dogs of questionable origin, this is nothing short of refreshing.
Rich Manning is a blogger in Orange County. See more of his work at OC Executive.