Eleven months ago, I wrote about the closing of the domed Century theatres on Ethan Way, including a discussion of the industry trends that are causing larger theatres to be replaced with smaller ones (that article can be found here). Today, less than a year later, a new theatre is opening in the same location – well, almost, it’s in what was once part of the parking lot of the old building.
Officially the “Century Arden and XD,” it includes 14 screens of assorted sizes, ranging from 59 seats to a little under 300. Those capacities may seem deceptively small, as the other most noticeable change is that the seating is all far more generous, with motorized “luxury loungers” in all 14 theaters, with vary spacious aisles. Seating is also reserved, so audiences will need to plan ahead a little more than they did with the old building, where sold out theatres were relatively uncommon and it was generally possible to arrive without much forethought. And, with the expansion of the rest of the retail outlets around the new theatre, for the first time theatre goers at this location are competing for parking with shoppers, which may make for crowded conditions at the holidays – which is somewhat mitigated by the overall theater capacity being a little over half of the old building’s.
The new theatre also features some neat artwork, including unique Sacramento themed photographic panels above the main lobby space and poster panels in the main hallway that show different images as you pass in each direction. And anybody who has ever worked as a theatre usher will appreciate the fact that audience members are encouraged to empty soda cups into available sinks near each theatre before placing them in trash receptacles, and those receptacles are now clearly labeled for different uses (recycling, landfill, etc.). The concessions area is now largely self-serve (including the popcorn butter, which seems likely to be messy) and includes expanded menu items as well as beer and wine sales.
The following photographs were taken on Tuesday evening, when Cinemark hosted an opening reception for press and invited guests and also welcomed its first audiences for tours and complimentary screenings. At that time, I also checked almost half of the screens, with all looking bright and clear in terms of their projection. More information, including screening times can be found here.