The Wall Street Journal reports that AMC is renovating theaters in struggling markets as a means of getting people to come back to the movies. The renovations themselves are costly, running between $350,000 and $500,000 per auditorium. What’s more, adding the bigger, comfier seats reduces seating capacity by up to 70 percent. Still, the work seems to be paying off; while the theater chain wouldn’t give hard numbers for attendance before and after the renovations, AMC says that attendance rose an average of 80 percent.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), last year’s box office only rose 1 percent as compared to 2012, and theaters face tough competition from the likes of Netflix. To get moviegoers to fill more seats, AMC Entertainment is spending $600 million over the next five years to outfit 1,800 of its 5,000 auditoriums with La-Z-Boy-style recliners. And the strategy is already working.