I got to take a tour of the new Paragon entertainment complex set to open this weekend in Coconut Grove. Much has been made about the "unique" and "premier movie-going experience" that this new theater (on the site of the old AMC) will offer -- some $4 million dollars have been spent towards the addition of stadium seating, high-def digital projection with four 3D screens, all-reserved VIP seating, a lounge auditorium, valet car service, and a U-Bar lounge/restaurant that willl include a bowling alley. Sounds impressive, but...
Concession stand foods, at least for the opening, will be popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, chicken tenders...in other words, $4 million bucks spent and not a dime on improving the crappy movie theater snack-eating experience.
There are some small screens that are supposedly being set aside for
"independent and alternative content". When asked if any such films
have been booked, Michael F. Whalen, Jr., one of the three former
Muvico Theatre executives that have started up Paragon, admitted that
no, none have been booked yet. And our photo shows as large a screen as you're going to get out of the 13 -- a lot smaller than pre-multiplex movie theater
screens from decades ago (though the angle of the photo makes it look even smaller). We're supposed to be thrilled that the projected images will be four times more pixilated than what you see on a 1080p television
screen, but the coming attraction they showed us -- last year's
Spiderman trailer! -- didn't look all that much sharper than on other
screens. Maybe you need to inhale some pixie dust to get the full pixilary effect. Or maybe you just need to drink lots of beer and wine, which
you'll be able to purchase in the theater and take to your seats.
Price for tickets will be $11 -- less for seniors, kids, and others who
attend movies during off-hours, etc. Add $4 for a 3D film and it comes
to $15 -- which is no more than other places, but Whalen was going on as
if he was offering a real special "value". Please.
It's great for the Grove that this theater is opening -- Lord knows the
neighborhood needs a kick-start like this. But don't go expecting some
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distinctive 21st Century film-going experience. It's the same old same
old with glossy new repackaging, more pixels, and more comfortable seating. Sex and
The City 2 will be the opening flick, which seems fitting -- an
overhyped movie opening in an overhyped theater (I mean theatre).