Local movie theater chain Cinetopia crushed by AMC
The movie theater chain AMC announced Thursday it has bought the four Cinetopia movie theaters. The high-end cinemas, which pioneered bringing quality food to viewers in their seats, was started in Vancouver, Washington and had a location in Beaverton. Last week they abruptly stopped serving food then a few days later closed.
AMC's announcement marks the end of the battle between Cinetopia founder Rudyard Coltman. AMC announced it would reopen the movie theaters under its own brands, which include AMC, AMC Classic and Dine-In AMC. Only the Beaverton location will be Dine-In. The rest will serve regular movie concession snacks.
These will be the first AMCs in the Portland area. Multiplexes around here are mostly Regal and Cinemark.
On Monday, The Columbian reported that the Cinetopias had shuttered. On Thursday AMC announced that as part of the settlement of Cinetopia's antitrust lawsuit against AMC, AMC was buying Cinetopia. On Friday AMC said it would rebrand and reopen them as soon as possible.
Cinetopia's beef with AMC was about "clearance." This is when theater chains make deals with studios to not release popular movies to nearby independent theaters. Although indies such as Cinetopia and Living Room Theaters are known for showing indie and foreign movies, they depend on mainstream blockbusters to pay the bills on big opening weekends when even their own customers want to see mainstream fare.
Poke the bear
Cinetopia founder Coltman opened his only remote location in the home town of AMC, Kansas City, then sued them.
"I've not known about the acquisition too long, it's all fairly new," Coltman told the Business Tribune on Friday. "There's not much I can say because of legal constraints."
"The acquisition isn't going to affect us very much, although I hate to see indie theaters absorbed by the borg collective," said Living Room Theaters CEO Steve Herring. (Ernesto Rimoch founded and owns the company.) He added, "It was a long time coming though. When Rudyard chose to take them on in KC it was poking the bear a bit too much."
Herring said that at Living Room Theaters they hate the model of waiters delivering food to the seat because it disrupts the viewing atmosphere. "People come out to see a movie, we've found the dining is secondary."
He added that for the last three and a half years he has been able to book Fox titles at will for Living Room. "It's helped us tremendously." However, with Disney now owning Fox he is not sure if clearance will kick in.
The Living Room near Powell's Books has just 299 seats across its six auditoriums. (There is a second location in Boca Raton, Florida.) On weekends when a blockbuster opens that he can't get his hands on, he has seen the weekend take drop from $15,000 to $3,000. "Some titles just suck the oxygen out of the room."
Although he could not talk about legalities Coltman was keen to point out that the Cinetopia spirit lives on in his new venture, Studio One Theaters, which opened in December 2018 near S.E. 39th Ave and Powell Blvd. "We were a gamechanger in 2005 and we are one now, with fine dining in a high-tech theater experience."
The seven rooms are decorated like penthouse apartments from around the world, with digital picture windows which look out on, for example, the Eiffel Tower or Central Park. "Despite Netflix people are still drawn to go out to see a movie and have fine food and beverages." Each has between 20 and 60 seats including cuddle couches, bar chairs and recliners designed by his wife Shelly. The lobby has a stage for live performances which can be projected into the theaters between movies.
Also included: Studio One Dolby Atmospheric sound and laser projectors which have higher contrast values, a larger color spectrum and are more long lasting that tradition Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors.
Coltman says the food at Studio One is all "farm-to-table" and there are no candy bars. Patrons can skip dinner and find a "cozy nook" if all they want to do is see a film. "Some people come in and don't know what's playing, they say 'I just want to sit in Tokyo.'"
He says the market is on his side. "This is the new vision. The days of the multiplex are over, the large, vanilla box with popcorn and 3,000 seats in an 80,000 square foot space that you have to fill all the time. We're 300 seats and we're offering a memorable experience."
New AMC branding for Cinetopia theaters:
• AMC DINE-IN Progress Ridge 14
formerly Cinetopia Progress Ridge 14
12345 SW Horizon Blvd Ste 231, Beaverton, OR 97007
• AMC Vancouver Mall 23
formerly Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23
8700 NE Vancouver Mall Dr., Vancouver, WA 98662
• AMC CLASSIC Mill Plain 8
formerly Cinetopia Mill Plain 8
11700 SE 7th St, Vancouver, WA 98683
• AMC DINE-IN Prairiefire 18
formerly Cinetopia Overland Park 18
5724 W 136th Terrace, Overland Park, KS 66223
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.