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REGION: MULTIPLEXES (DALLAS)
1. AMC NorthPark
8687 Central Park Expressway,
Dallas (in NorthPark Center)
Movies: Blockbusters and the occasional smaller film.
The reel deal: The main multiplex closest to the densest areas of Dallas (Uptown, downtown, Oak Lawn, Knox-Henderson), NorthPark is a good place to see the biggest special-event films in all their technological glory without having to go to the 'burbs. It has two large auditoriums that seat more than 450. One features IMAX, the other ETX (Enhanced Theatre Experience, which means larger screens, 3-D and Dolby Atmos sound).
Comfort factor: Stadium seating with big, plush seats and plenty of leg room.
Food/drink: Concessions include candy, popcorn and hot food items like pizza, chicken tenders, fries and mozzarella sticks. A large, inviting lobby bar called MacGuffins Bar & Lounge (named after a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock) serves beer, wine and cocktails.
Parking: NorthPark garages. Arrive early, because this is the most popular mall in DFW and the busiest theater in the region.
You should also know: The mall is now home to a Breadwinners Cafe, so you can see a movie and have good casual food without leaving the building. There's also a food court and a Kona Grill nearby.
2. iPic Fairview
321 Town Place, Fairview
Movies: Mainstream new releases.
The reel deal: Opened in summer 2011, iPic is an upscale theater with plenty of amenities and intimate auditoriums -- 56 to 86 seats in each, all equipped with 4K digital cinema technology. There is an upscale bar, SALT Sports, that features craft beer and cocktails, small plates and late-night dining selections, and billiards. You don't even have to go to a movie to hang here.
Comfort factor: Premium-Plus seating features reclining oversize micro-suede chairs, pillows, blankets and individual service call buttons.
Food/drink: Tanzy Express offers a chef-prepared "grab and go" menu -- everything from mozzarella sticks ($11) to filet mignon sliders ($18) -- that can be taken into the cinema. Buckets of beer and martini shakers are also available. There are even self-serve wine towers in the bar area.
You should also know: iPic offers guests a no-charge membership program that provides discount pricing, priority notification of ticket availability, free upgrades to Premium-Plus seats (they recline all the way) and access to exclusive movie showings. Premium-Plus is $18.50, and Premium is $13 all day.
3. Highland Park Village
32 Highland Park Village,
Movies: Mainstream new releases.
The reel deal: A recently refurbished historic theater set amid the region's toniest shopping center, it has the feel of a true neighborhood theater with all the amenities of a new theater (digital). It's also a bit more expensive ($11.75 adults versus $11 at AMC NorthPark).
Comfort factor: Good, though a couple of the auditoriums are pretty small.
Food: The usual concessions, plus a full bar.
Parking: Outdoor shopping-center lots.
You should also know: If you've got the bucks, dine at Marquee, the restaurant with a balcony on top of the theater marquee.
4. Cinemark 17 and IMAX
11819 Webb Chapel Road, Dallas
Number of screens: 18
Movies: Typical Hollywood fare.
The reel deal: A movie megaplex with the latest exhibition technology, it's the place to go for IMAX or films shown in the newest formats, such as the 48-frames-per-second The Hobbit. Be warned, though: The theater is situated right off the traffic-choked, construction-hobbled I-635. Check the website for alternative directions.
Comfort factor: Lots of leg room.
Food: There's a Studio Eats Cafe selling cotton candy and Starbucks coffee.
Parking: A big outdoor lot.
You should also know: An arcade game room can keep you or the young ones occupied before the movie.
5. AMC Mesquite 30
19919 LBJ Freeway, Mesquite
Movies: Mostly mainstream new releases.
The reel deal: The biggest monster of a multiplex on the eastern side of the Metroplex, it features Digital, RealD 3D and IMAX and shows the standard Hollywood movies. But with 30 theaters, occasionally you'll also find smaller indie titles here.
Comfort factor: The place is expansive, with big screens and comfy seats.
Food: A larger menu features such item as chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks.
Parking: A big lot.
You should also know: It can get pretty crowded on weekends.
10110 Technology Blvd. E., Dallas
Movies: The latest from Hollywood.
The reel deal: The sprawling multiplex offers wall-to-wall screens, with digital and 3-D capabilities. It also has 25 DBOX MFX motion seats in one theater, the first mainstream cinema in the city to feature that technology. It is synchronized to all the onscreen action, so hold on tight. Tickets for these cost $8 extra, so a $9.25 weekend evening screening goes for $17.25.
Comfort factor: Stadium seating with high-back rocking chairs. Seats are equipped with two armrests for added comfort.
Food: Standard concessions, but the theater is located next to several restaurants, including Toby Keith's I Love This Bar.
You should also know: This used to be the AMC Grand 24, the country's first megaplex. Toby Keith's place now occupies the side of the building where the other 10 screens were located.
7. UA Galaxy 10
11801 McCree Road, Dallas
Movies: Mainstream new releases.
The reel deal: This place once claimed to have the largest screen in Texas and now has RealD 3D and digital. For those who live in northeastern Dallas county, it's a good alternative to going all the way to AMC NorthPark.
Comfort: There seems to be plenty of elbow room in the auditoriums.
Food/drink: Standard stuff, though the concessions also include pickles.
You should also know: Though there aren't many UA theaters left, this one is actually part of the Regal chain, one of the largest in the U.S.
8. Cinemark West Plano and XD
3800 Dallas Parkway, Plano
Number of screens: 20
Movies: Mainstream movies, plus the occasional indie film.
The reel deal: The place to see blockbusters in western Collin County, it offers stellar digital projection as well as 3-D and XD 3-D, which may be why many studios have preview screenings here.
Comfort factor: Excellent. The seats lean back and the auditoriums are a decent size.
Food: The choices are the same as most everywhere else, but, as the snacks are set up at various self-serve stations, it has a different feel than most concession areas.
Parking: Enough to fit the state of Rhode Island.
You should also know: It used to go by the more picturesque name of Tinseltown USA.