Movie-goers can now purchase beer and wine, alongside popcorn and Junior Mints, to enjoy during a film at Los Angeles-area Arclight Cinemas.
Spurred by the success of the theaters' booze-friendly screenings, and a shift in the theater industry toward more full-service offerings such as iPic theaters (which include servers and full cocktail and food menus in the theaters), the Arclight management has spent the last 18 months revising permits and licenses for alcohol sales to allow guests to imbibe throughout the theater in five of the six L.A.-area locations. The Sherman Oaks theater is still in the permitting process.
Now, instead of rushing to quaff a cocktail before your show starts, you can order a drink at the Arclight bar to take into your show, or order a glass of beer or wine from the theater concessions.
At the Arclight Hollywood, only bottles of Stella Artois and L.A. favorite Allagash White are available until a remodel of the concession areas planned for later in 2016 is complete. At the other L.A. Arclight theaters, three draft beers are offered, and include two craft options -- an IPA blonde or wheat style -- alongside the Stella tap.
"Stella has a wide audience with people who aren't into craft beer, and IPAs are extremely popular," says Steven Ramskill, the senior manager of food and beverage operations for the Arclight chain. "We wanted the third [draft beer] to be something with a similarly wide appeal. There's so much interest in craft beer right now, and we think it fits very well with the type of [movie-going] experience that we offer at the Arclight."
A 12-ounce Allagash White purchased at the concession stand at the Hollywood Arclight during the first weekend of the new brew offerings was a surprisingly reasonable $7, though the lines were slowed by I.D. checks and a staff not yet familiar with the new procedures.
According to Ramskill, the initial reaction to the new offerings have been positive, and Ramskill says he wants to work with more local breweries. At each Arclight bar, one tap is dedicated to a rotating local selection. "Supporting the local breweries supports community, and it supports a connection with the customers who love those brands," said Ramskill.
The trend of offering drinks and even in-theater dining has grown as theater operators look for new ways to draw customers back to the cinema after years of declining box office sales. But Ramskill says that there are no plans for in-theater dining for the Arclight locations, beyond the standard bucket of popcorn, candy bars and occasional sausage.
"We don't want to offer any food that's too loud or distracting," he says. "We want to preserve the integrity of the movie-viewing experience."