Inside CMX Movie Theater, Brickell City Centre's New "VIP Cinema Experience"EXPAND
Courtesy of CMX

Inside CMX Movie Theater, Brickell City Centre's New "VIP Cinema Experience"

Down the street from the bums on Brickell and around the corner from Blackbird Ordinary, there is a gleaming, chrome and concrete monolith poised to transform one of the more blighted and ignored areas of downtown. Brickell City Centre, a luxurious, open-air shopping center, opened in November of last year, but is still taking its final shape. Recently, BCC unveiled its latest crown jewel: CMX – the VIP cinema experience.

It's a concept familiar to anyone who’s frequented an upscale movie theater. Other worthwhile South Florida entries into this industry include the CinéBistro at Dolphin Mall and iPic at the Intracoastal Mall in North Miami Beach. In other words, Cinemex, the Mexico City-based company behind CMX and the sixth-largest movie theater chain in the world, has plenty of competition and a lot of expectations to meet.

On an aesthetic level, CMX is a visual treat that adds to the impressive architecture of BCC, which is, if we’re honest, a mall masquerading as modern art (or perhaps the other way around). This is the Mexican company’s first foray into the U.S. market, and it seems they want to make an immediate splash, sparing no expense. The 35,759-square-foot theater features 10 screens. At two adjacent bars, patrons can lounge and order refreshments without buying a movie ticket.

In addition to polite conversation, the bars feature gargantuan TV screens, four on the first floor and one on the second, and a food and drink menu featuring in-house specialties and craft cocktails. We sampled the Cuban egg rolls, a Chino-Latino culture meld that is both exquisite and simultaneously messy; and the Legends of the Fall, an updated old-fashioned named after the 1994 historical drama starring Brad Pitt that features spectacular visuals, World War I action scenes, and a love triangle. It was a fitting drink for the evening’s feature, The Promise, which offers exactly the same fare but succeeds to a lesser degree. And here is where we can draw some parallels between the Oscar Isaac-led film and the overall movie going experience at CMX.

Inside CMX Movie Theater, Brickell City Centre's New "VIP Cinema Experience"
Courtesy of CMX

For starters, the theaters themselves are cold and stoic, with faux-leather-bound seating reminiscent of ergonomic office chairs but less comfortable. While the seats do recline, anyone over six feet might find their legs sticking out a bit and dragging the whole thing down. The CMX press release boasts that they are the only “all-laser theaters” and that they feature “audio technology from Meyer Sound Laboratories.” The audio and visual experience was fine, but not any better or worse than other high-end cineplexes.

Each seat features a small table to hold the popcorn that comes complimentary with each movie ticket purchase (prices range from $21 to $25). It can also be home to dinner and drinks, which can be ordered through an app on your phone or from any number of servers running around. The armrests house a small lamp and USB outlets to charge mobile phones, a move that hopefully won’t encourage phone use during the movie. Need your server for more beers or a margherita-style pizza? Push the white call button next to your hip — or at least that’s the theory. When we tried it, after waiting an hour for a drink, no one came. In the end, we flagged down a server who was very friendly and helped to make up for lost time.

One very clever amenity is the portable close captioning devices for the hearing impaired or foreign language speakers. They look like the viewfinders from our childhood but painted black. They sit on bendable arms and fit nicely into the cup holder. Blankets and pillows are also available upon request, but that could lead to a very expensive nap.

Inside CMX Movie Theater, Brickell City Centre's New "VIP Cinema Experience"
Courtesy of CMX

Much like The Promise — a grandiose, old-school Hollywood romance and war epic — CMX, even with its fancy, 21st-century creature comforts, is something of a throwback. The “one-stop shop” mentality behind the concept hearkens back to the Golden Age of American cinema, a time when going to the movies was an event, where both ladies and gentlemen dressed up to sit in the dark.

CMX strives for opulence and mostly achieves it. It was an odd and striking experience to watch a film about human suffering and the genocide of the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during the Great War, all while gorging on $13 cocktails and big, fat burgers. But more apparent was the effort put forth by both the film and the theater. There are a lot of important ideas on the table, but not nearly enough heart to match that ambition.

Given time, CMX will work out the kinks. But for the time being, its greatest asset is location. It is, by far, the best movie-going option in the area, and will be a huge draw to the Brickell City Centre. And like the stunning set pieces in The Promise, CMX is incredibly pretty and complements the building the way a well-designed showpiece should.

CMX Brickell City Center
701 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 786-482-2097; cmxcinemas.com. Tickets cost $21 to $25.

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