The new Flagship Premium Cinemas in Falmouth opened quietly Wednesday night, with no sign out front and very little publicity. The 10-screen movie house is next to Wal-Mart, in a building that had been a movie theater between 1995 and 2012. Most of the ...
FALMOUTH â€” Tom Watson leaned back in the plush recliner, with his legs fully stretched out in front of him, and started nibbling popcorn as he waited for the movie â€œThe BFGâ€ to start.
Within a few minutes, a woman walked into the theater, saw Watson and another man lounging like they were watching a ball game on TV, and blurted, â€œWow, look at you guys. This place is going to be huge.â€
â€œYeah, for Maine, this is huge,â€ said Watson, 47, a plumber from Limerick.
The new Flagship Premium Cinemas in Falmouth opened quietly Wednesday night, with no sign out front and very little publicity. The 10-screen movie house is next to Wal-Mart, in a building that had been a movie theater between 1995 and 2012.
Most of the people who turned out for the soft opening Wednesday were immediately struck by the most obvious addition to the theater building: The large, fully-reclining seats that are more like La-Z-Boys than standard stadium seating. A 6-foot-tall man can stretch out fully, and still have a foot or two left between his feet and the next seat. A push of a button quietly reclines the back and extends the footrest, another push makes the seat slowly go back to an upright position. Each seat has thick, padded armrests on each side, and each armrest has a cup holder.
Along with the comfy seats, Flagship has created a reserved-seating system that is rare among Maine theaters. When people buy tickets â€“ either online, at the box office, or from self-serve kiosks in the lobby â€“ they are shown a map of every seat in that theater. The map shows the screen, the aisles, the rows and the number of each seat.
On Wednesday night, â€œThe BFGâ€ was being shown in a theater with about 35 seats, with an aisle in the middle. There were eight rows, with the letters A to H printed on the carpet to mark each row. There were three seats on one side of the aisle, and two on the other. Seats were numbered one to five, with little lighted numbers on each.
Watson picked a seat on the aisle, about half-way back from the screen. The seat number on his ticket was E-3.
The system allows people to buy their seats, show up when they want, and still have their seats waiting, said Andrew Poore, vice president of operations for Flagship.
â€œMaybe somebody doesnâ€™t want to see the ads (before the movie) so they can skip those, and still have the seats,â€ said Poore.
The best, and easiest, way to buy the reserved seats from home is to go directly to the Flagship website, and click the time of the movie you want to go to, Poore said.
Flagship, which runs 15 theaters, actually opened its first theater in this building in 1995. It sold the theater to Hoyts in 1997, and eventually the Regal chain took it over, before closing in 2012. Flagship, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also operates movie theaters in Auburn, Thomaston, Waterville and Wells. One is planned for Oxford.
Poore said the reclining seats and reserved ticket system are part of Flagshipâ€™s effort to provide more comfort, and a better experience for moviegoers. The price is comparable to other movie theaters, at $10.50 for an adult evening ticket, and no extra charge for 3-D.
To switch to the recliners, the total number of seats in the 10-screen facility was drastically reduced, from about 1,700 seats to about 600, Poore said. One theater has only about 25 seats.
On Wednesday, the theater staff was helping people use the new ticketing system and find their seats.
â€œI think at first it might take people a little while to get used to this,â€ said Poore. â€œSo weâ€™ve got people to help.â€
While the chairs are the biggest difference, the whole facility has gotten a makeover. There is new paint, new carpeting, new ceilings and a remodeled lobby.
The color scheme throughout is steely gray and blue, with soft blue lighting and metal-color signs for various areas. There are comfy leather chairs in the lobby and a few in the hall leading to individual theaters.
To speed up concession lines, Poore said, drinks come in one size, a refillable cup for $5. The cashier hands people a cup, and they fill it up themselves at a self-serve drink station. So when ordering a drink all a person has to say is â€œdrink pleaseâ€ to get a cup. Then they can fill it, and refill it, themselves. Thereâ€™s also a popcorn topping station so people can put more butter and salt on their popcorn.
The sound Wednesday for â€œThe BFGâ€ was clear and loud without being noisy or overwhelming. There is no sign on the outside of the building yet, but it should be installed in a couple of weeks, Poore said. There is a free-standing sign near Route 1 announcing the cinema.
But Maine movie fans already know about the theater, and its recliners and reserved seats. Itâ€™s been talked about on social media, especially by movie buffs.
Watson, for instance, goes to the movies twice a week and doesnâ€™t mind traveling an hour or so for a better experience.
And he thinks heâ€™s found that experience at Flagship.
â€œThis is pretty luxurious, these seats, and the fact that they donâ€™t charge extra for 3-D, thatâ€™s pretty rare,â€ said Watson.
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