Imagine relaxing in a recliner with a waiter just a push of a button away, all while watching the latest blockbuster in a movie theater.
New iPic Theaters in Hallandale Beach and Boca Raton, opening this year, will offer restaurant and lounge services, electric reclining seats and a premium level seating option that comes with unlimited popcorn.
"Think of it as a better version of the W Hotel," said Hamid Hashemi, president and CEO of iPic Theaters.
Just don't think of it as cheap. Moviegoers may pay as much as $25 for weekend admission, although final prices have not been set.
Hashemi is no newcomer to the movie theater business. He founded Muvico, a national chain that started a wine and dine service inside theaters years ago. He left Muvico, which sold several of its Florida theaters to Cinemark, and launched iPic in 2007.
iPic Theaters will compete with others cinemas that boast an extended list of amenities. The Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton offers premium seating, advance reservations and made-to-order food items from an in house cafe.
Paragon Theaters in Coconut Grove and Deerfield Beach serve food and drinks from a "back lot bar" and have reserved seating. CineBistro in Miami has similar features.
In Boca Raton, the space that used to be a Sunrise Cinemas location will be transformed into a 43,000-square-foot, two-story iPic. The eight-screen theater is expected to open in May and will include an adjacent 7,000-square-foot restaurant and bar concept called Tanzy.
The site has been vacant since January 2011, when the cinema's operator fell behind in its rent.
"It was a sad day in downtown Boca Raton when the former theater closed," said Mayor Susan Whelchel at a public unveiling of plans for the cinema Wednesday. "iPic Theater is really the answer and what Mizner Park needs."
The restaurant will have indoor and outside seating facing Federal Highway. Restaurant fare will include flatbread pizzas, sliders and more. The restaurant is connected to the theater and will allow moviegoers to dine before and after a film, or order while watching in the theater.
The Gulfstream Park location, set to open in December, will have eight screens, an ultra lounge and club called Salt, along with the same restaurant concept, Tanzy.
About 500 jobs will be created when both locations open, Hashemi said.
Moviegoers can choose between regular seating and a premium-plus option, which costs about $5 more. General admission prices allows customers to order food and drinks from Tanzy or a Tanzy Express counter and bring the items to their seats inside the theater.
Premium-plus seating offers chairside wait service buttons on each seat, and pillows and blankets. Motor-driven reclining seats are reserved for premium-plus patrons, who also get free popcorn.
Ticket prices will range between $12-$17 for films showing Monday through Thursday and $17-$25 on weekends depending on general or premium-plus seating, Hashemi said. Firm prices have not yet been set.
"I don't mind the price," said Tracy Augustin, a Boca Raton resident who attended the unveililng. "You're paying for a destination experience and its well worth avoiding the cramped seats."
Digital technology installed in each theater will allow for live broadcasting sessions from movie makers and include South Florida patrons in Q&A sessions going on at other places around the world, Hashemi said. The theaters will show a blend of Hollywood blockbuster and independent films.
To view a photo gallery of what the new theaters will look like, click here.
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