Downtown Fort Worth moviegoers no longer have to go to the movies like it's 1996.
AMC Theaters announced Friday that it's giving the somewhat worn Palace 9 multiplex a makeover. There won't be an increase in auditoriums at the 17-year-old venue -- so don't expect it to suddenly become like the AMC behemoth at Grapevine Mills -- but there will be a bar and lounge, renovated restrooms, luxury reclining seats, new screens, and speakers. It will now be what they're calling a "destination theatre."
They're even promising "Coca-Cola Freestyle" machines -- and, no, these aren't rapping Coke machines though that would be awesome. They're apparently machines that offer "more than 120 drink options." And before all the dentists in the house get their floss in a wad, there will also be more "better-for-you" items as part of an expanded concession area, according to the AMC press release.
This is something Sundance Square management has been wanting for some time. After all, since the 11-screen AMC Sundance Square closed in 2008 and the aging Palace began losing its luster, downtown was becoming something of a moviegoing wasteland. The opening of the Movie Tavern on West 7th in 2009 made the Palace seem even more outdated. If things continued at that rate, downtown Fort Worth might've ended up as bereft of cinema as, gulp, downtown Dallas.
"In order to stay competitive, you always have to be upgrading and doing new, innovative things," says Tracy Gilmour, Sundance Square's marketing director.
But is this going to offer Fort Worth residents more cinematic choice? Or will it be just another place to see A Good Day to Die Hard? It would be cool for Fort Worth residents to be able to see, say, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, or Name Your Critically Adored Arthouse Film Here, without having to drive to Grapevine or Dallas or wait for it to come for a couple of days at the Modern Art Museum.
"It's too early to tell," says AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan about the programming. "We'll book movies that make sense for this location."
He notes that many seats will be taken out to make room for the new recliners -- therefore reducing the number of tickets available. Having auditoriums with fewer seats may impact the types of movies shown.
The theater will remain open during the renovations which are due to be complete by late summer. That means everything should be done by the time the new plaza opens in October and the Lone Star Film Festival rolls around in November.