The Warren will soon have some major competition in Wichita.
A new 14-screen AMC movie theater at 3151 N. Penstemon, just north of 29th and Rock Road, opens Friday.
Over the past year, AMC has renovated the old Northrock 14 building, a 14-screen theater that operated from 1998 to 2012.
The Leawood-based theater chain has drastically overhauled the building, once known for its second-floor arcade and the relative ease with which people could sneak into films.
On Wednesday, AMC Theatres offered a sneak peek at the theater to showcase its leather reclining seats, full bar and luxe "Dolby Cinema at AMC" theater.
"Everything you see, everything you touch, everything you smell right now — because you've got that wonderful new-theater smell going on — has been renovated," said Ryan Noonan, director of corporate communications for AMC Theatres. "We wanted to make it a new look, a new feel. We wanted to put the AMC touch on it and I feel we've really done that."
Forget what you may have known about the 48,000-square-foot Northrock 14.
Walking into the building, guests are greeted by an open lobby with an AMC MacGuffins bar to the side, which serves beer, wine and cocktails. Currently it has Samuel Adams Cold Snap, Lagunitas IPA, Boulevard Wheat and Blue Moon on tap.
The second-floor arcade is long gone.
The concessions stand has been freshened up as well, as guests dispense their own sodas through one of three Coke Freestyle machines.
The theaters range in size from 171 seats (in Auditorium 14) to a mere 33 seats in Auditorium 13. Every seat in the building is a plush leather recliner — with at least 3 feet of space separating the rows of seating.
Its luxury theater, the Dolby Cinema at AMC, features the largest screen in the building and 153 seats that vibrate with the action of the movie.
How does this theater compares to Wichita's Warren Theatres — which in the span of a year went from a privately owned company to a Regal Cinemas property to now, technically, a Cineworld chain?
We examined a few key questions moviegoers may have about the new AMC.
How much are tickets at the AMC theater?
Standard admission at the new AMC theater will be just under $10 in the evenings (after 4 p.m.) and slightly less than $5 for matinee screenings before noon. Specific prices were not available Wednesday.
There will be student discounts available.
Tickets to the deluxe Dolby Cinema at AMC will cost an extra $5.
All tickets are reserved seating — when you buy a ticket online or in person at one of the theater's self-serve kiosks, you reserve your seat. Guests can even forgo the paper ticket by purchasing online and using a code on their phones to get into the theater.
In comparison, evening screenings at the Warren are generally $10.22 for adults and $7.22 for youths and seniors.
Matinees at the Warren, are $7.22 for adults. On Wednesdays the Warren Old Town has $5 admission.
And most screenings at the Warren are general admission, save for special theaters.
What can I eat and drink at the AMC?
AMC has included its new Feature Fare concept at the AMC Northrock 14.
You can get standard theater fare like popcorn, candy and hotdogs, but you can also get chicken-and-waffle sandwiches, cheeseburger sliders, Bavarian pretzels, flatbread pizzas and more. It also features Hillshire Small Plates, little meat-and-cheese samplers for $5.99.
There are gluten-free options available, including dark chocolate-coated pretzel crisps, Parmesan cheese crisps, "Snapea Crisps" and other snack bags.
The AMC also touts its full bar, MacGuffins, where moviegoers can buy cocktails and beer — and then take their drinks into the theater with them.
There is no seat service like at the Warren Old Town. Everyone will order their food and drinks and then take them to the theater.
In comparison, the Warren has similar food and beverage options at select theaters. The Warren 21 section of the East Warren and the Warren Old Town both offer alcoholic drinks. The Old Town Warren has more substantial meal options, and both the East and West Warrens have mini-restaurants where moviegoers can order food and take it into theaters.
How much do concessions cost?
A large popcorn tub is slightly more expensive than those at the Warren. A large popcorn will cost $8.69 at the Northrock 14, while that same tub costs $6.79 at the Warren.
Drinks are also more expensive at the AMC: A large soda will cost $6.19, while at the Warren it costs $4.99.
Here are the concessions combos at the new AMC:
- Large popcorn tub + extra-large drink: $15.38
- Large popcorn tub + two extra-large drinks: $21.89
- Stone-fired flatbread pizza + extra-large drink: $15.39
- "The Bavarian Legend" pretzel + extra-large drink: $21.49
- MovieNachos + extra-large drink: $15.09
- Chicken & Waffle Sandwich: $12.99
How comfortable will the seats be?
In years past, Northrock 14 guests complained the rows of seats were so close together that their knees often hit the seat in front of them.
That should not be an issue with the new AMC Northrock 14.
There is at least 3 feet of space separating all of the seating rows, and all of the seats are power-reclining.
That should make the front row not as bad of a seat, according to an AMC spokesman.
Most seats have their own armrests, though a few share armrests with their neighbor. They each have cup holders.
All theaters have handicap-accessible seating and designated companion seats.
Are there any special perks at the AMC?
The theater's special Dolby Cinema at AMC features Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound, as well as those seats with transducers that vibrate with the action of the movie.
Rumor had it that the new AMC was getting the latest 4K-resolution projectors in all of its screens, but Noonan did not confirm that specific deal, simply saying the projectors were AMC's newest.
"When we do these renovations ... we come in and we put in new speakers, new sound systems, new movie screens — we give it the latest and greatest," he said. "This theater obviously had been closed for several years so everything that's in here would have been the latest of our sight and sound technology."
It's too early to tell whether the theater will play host to special-event screenings, like Marvel movie marathons, Fathom events or arthouse films, Noonan said.
Noonan said the theater also will be considering hosting sensory-friendly film screenings.
AMC has a rewards program similar to Regal's Crown Club called AMC Stubs. It's free to join (though premium memberships are available for an extra charge, which grant more perks).
AMC Stubs members get a free refill on large popcorn tubs as well as discounted tickets on Tuesday nights. Members also get a free large popcorn on their birthday. Every time you see a movie, you will accumulate rewards points, which can then be used on tickets, concessions or other items.
Will it work with MoviePass?
The golden question.
The monthly subscription service MoviePass has become a popular option for locals to watch movies at local theaters — including most local Warrens.
For a monthly fee, MoviePass allows people to see one free movie every day, using a special MoviePass debit card.
AMC has come out against MoviePass in the past, but the service does still work at many AMC locations.
MoviePass will be accepted at the AMC Northrock 14, according to Noonan.
On Wednesday, Noonan did not rule out the possibility of future AMC theaters in Wichita, though that is not in the immediate future.
"We didn't want to call it the AMC Wichita 14 because, you never know, we might have more AMCs in Wichita," he said.
He said he's confident Wichitans will be impressed by the new theater.
"I never like to compare ourselves against another theater company, but AMC has a long history of providing an amazing moviegoing experience," Noonan said. "We feel like we do it better than anybody else, and that's not just corporate speak. We feel like we do a really good job of showing movies."
Showtimes for the AMC Northrock 14 are expected to be released online Thursday at www.amctheatres.com.