Luxury movie theaters opening at Del Mar Highlands Town Center July 22

By Karen Billing
Staff Writer

Imagine a movie theater where, as you’re reclining in a leather chair to catch the last “Harry Potter” movie, you can order up sushi or chocolate-covered popcorn at the press of button. That unique, elevated movie-going experience is here now in Carmel Valley with Del Mar Highlands’ new Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, opening this Friday, July 22.

Close to $7 million was plugged into the former UltraStar Cinema to bring it up to the luxury level, a new concept for the United States from Cinepolis, a Mexican theater chain.
“We’re here to become part of the community,” said Carlos Wellman, Cinepolis managing director. “We’re very happy to start a new team and adventure out here.”

“We hope the community really embraces it,” echoed Cinepolis partner Adolfo Fastlicht, who noted that the new theater created more than 70 jobs.

Cinepolis opened its first theater in Mexico in 1947 and has since become the largest movie chain in Latin America and fourth largest in the world. Cinepolis developed its“VIP” luxury experience in 1999 and has ventured into several South American countries and India, but San Diego is its first American presence.

They have plans to open seven more theaters in the Southern California region, including the former UltraStar La Costa in Carlsbad, Laguna Niguel and Irvine. Fastlicht said they aim to grow into Northern California and then become a nationwide chain.

Cinepolis’ difference is noticed right away in the theater lobby, which features floor to ceiling windows, glossy wood floors, and a cluster of cozy, stylish couches and tables to grab a bite from the gourmet concession stand where champagne is chilling and decadent desserts are on display.

Cinepolis is the only movie theater in San Diego to have a full bar, which serves wine, beer, champagne and signature cocktails such as a Skinny Margarita or Cool as A Cucumber, with vodka, fresh cucumber and a splash of agave nectar.

Alcohol is only allowed in theaters one and two and Cinepolis will be very strict about those two theaters, general manager Antonio Garcia said. Identification will be required to purchase tickets to movies in those two theaters and any time the patron enters and exits. Moviegoers over 21 can also only imbibe two drinks maximum.

Unlike most movie theaters, there are no ticket windows. Instead, there is a concierge desk where moviegoers can select their own reserved seat when they buy the ticket.
“I honestly believe there is no bad seat in the house,” Garcia said.

For people who purchased tickets online or if there is a line, they can use an adjacent ticket station to pick up tickets, as well.

An upstairs lobby area features bathroom lounges and an art gallery with local artists’ works on display and for sale.

Cinepolis’ eight auditoriums feature 65 seats each, “The most state-of-the-art, beautiful cinemas in the U.S.,” Garcia said proudly. Patrons relax in seven-foot leather reclining chairs with tables in between each and an adjustable table that can go over the lap. Once seated, there is a button to summon service and a menu with an LED light built in so you can see what you’re selecting.

The menu includes items such as Angus beef sliders, flat bread pizza, wraps, coconut shrimp and quesadillas.

They also have standard movie fare like candy and popcorn, but the popcorn comes in six different flavors: butter, caramel, spicy chili, cheddar cheese, cinnamon roll and zebra (black and white chocolate covered) and is served in a footed cone bowl.

Garcia said people have expressed concerns that the service will be interruptive to watching the movie, but he said most people order during the first 15 minutes of previews. After that, service is sporadic and servers are dressed in black and will slip quickly in and out, kneeling to take orders and deliver food.

Ticket prices are slightly more expensive than standard theaters at $14-18. To learn more, visit

Related posts:

  1. Del Mar Highlands Town Center movie theater to close Jan. 3 for renovation
  2. Del Mar Highlands Town Center upgrade near completion
  3. Del Mar Highlands Town Center to get a ‘taste of downtown’ through BURLAP
  4. Inauguration hits local theaters
  5. Del Mar: Roll the credits; Flower Hill movie theater closes

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Posted by Lorine Wright on Jul 20, 2011. Filed under Carmel Valley, Del Mar, News, Solana Beach. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

43 Comments for “Luxury movie theaters opening at Del Mar Highlands Town Center July 22”

  1. You should have share buttons on your posts!

  2. Movienut

    We'll see how this goes … interesting business model, but a real niche market. There is a real need now for a family friendly (read: NO alcohol!) theater on the north coast. I just can't imagine taking a gaggle of school age kids to a theater like this.

    • Allison

      I actually prefer that it's catered more to adults, as it seems like a real treat to be able to go to the movies without being bothered by a gaggle of school age children.

    • Rebelline

      There are enough theaters that cater to the gaggles of school age children. This one sounds fabulous!

  3. Cindy

    You should open one in the Eastlake area! We would welcome you to our community :)

  4. Cal

    I think the concept is suspect. We are in bad economic times (albeit slightly improving) and they are actually charging $20.00 per person for admission, NOT $14.00!!!

    I'm not sure that there are that many families of 4, for example, who are willing to pay $80 for movie tickets. Then consider the fact that appetizers are in the range of $8 to $14 (drinks are the same) and you have a very expensive night out just to see a movie.

    And I'm sure that those 6 flavors of popcorn are not cheap either.

    All in all, I think a family of 4 could easily spend $140 for a movie and I think that's pretty expensive.

    Granted the theater is beautiful, quite spacious, and the reclining chairs are comfortable (almost too comfortable and sleep inducing), but I would be a reluctant patron.

    • delpiero1980

      AMC still open my man. Is not like these theaters are replacing the AMC ones. There are many families that can spent $140 per movie easily so let them be!!!

    • Jenny

      Luckily there are many other theatre choices to bring your family in San Diego. I personally think this is a nice alternative to noisy theatres full of kids & sticky floors with trash everywhere.

  5. Nancy

    And how long will it take for the sliders, coconut shrimp, chili popcorn, coke and gumy bears to imbed into the leather? Can't wait to smell the theater in 6 months!

  6. Rock

    Despite the quick negative comments, I think it sounds fun. Expensive, sure, but what the hell isn't? I like trying new things, albeit this really isn't new for the adventerous college types I see sneaking booze into theaters already, but the added comfort of lazy boy chairs, a full bar, and decent food options make it attractive.

  7. Kim B.

    Hello! There's a recession on in case you haven't seen a newspaper in the last few years. What we need is a place to take the kids for a movie without spending their college fund to do it. I can't see myself taking a group of children here – nor would you probably want them here if you're spending approximately $75 for a romantic night out with your honey. The owners should have looked into the demographics of North County before building. Looks like Red Box will be getting (even more of ) our business

    • Michele

      That's what every other theater is for. Please, by all means, take them there and let us enjoy a great movie experience on date night.

    • Adult

      So don't take your kids! There's a million other movie theaters to take children to. Have you heard of NetFlix? Geez, it will be so nice to go to an adult-only theater without a bunch of screaming brats running around! People like you should definitely stick to Red Box.

  8. delpiero1980

    "What we need is a place to take the kids for a movie without spending their college fund to do it. I can't see myself taking a group of children here"
    Hahahahah then ask AMC to open a crapy theater that charges $5 a tix plus expired popcorn and snacks from 99Cents sore.
    Cinepolis Lux is not for everyone. That's the point. In Mexico they are called VIP. Is for people who hate those babies crying in the middle of the movie, teens whispering and laughing, lousy seating, etc
    It's like saying that it's stupid in this economy for Audi, Benz or Bimmer to keep making expensive cars let alone Rolls Royce or Bentley. There is a market for every budget.
    If red box is you thing, that's cool just don't critizice those who can afford a lux theater!

    • TheTroll

      No offense but this place doesnt really seem like your type of place either… "Bimmer"?
      To me you sound like a wanabe…

  9. Jeremy

    I think this is a great idea. Everyone that's complaining about the prices…go rent a movie from RedBox. Why is everyone concerned with bringing kids. Wow..there's alcohol, so what…there is adult beverages at the Padre Games and no one is complaining about it there. My wife and I won't go to another movie theater after this experience. Please expand to Eastlake!!! AWESOME!!!!!

    • rebekah

      YES PLEASE to Eastlake!!! Considering the AMC at Otay Ranch is over-run with loud, rude, obnoxious teenagers! We spent $60 bucks on three tickets and popcorn and couldn't enjoy the film due to them skateboarding in the aisles, talking on their phones and constantly running around. The movie theater's solution??? "Don't go Friday or Saturday…" I will make the drive and pay the $$$ to ENJOY a film in an adult atmosphere!!!! You get what you pay for.

    • Big J

      Well said….. Eastlake or Otay Ranch would be nice..

      • Teha

        YES! This isn't a place for our kids but is exactly what a wonderful evening with my husband is all about. If the kids are coming to see a movie then we'll take them just one exit down to the Via De La Valle movies.

  10. mac

    NO…Hello…. This isn't for kids!!! This is really for adults and people who appreciate a little more for a little more $. Take your kids to UltraStar.
    Finally someone stepped up and brought something cool to San Diego. Thank You.
    Much needed adult theater… No kids.
    Love this idea and will be there soon.

    • Maddie

      There is no UltraStar in our area any more since Flower Hill, Del Mar Highlands, and La Costa closed. We loved our local theaters. Now we shall just go to Landmark which has better movies anyway.

  11. Guest

    I think this is a great idea. Good idea for "Date Night". your gonna spend a lot of money going to dinner drinks and movies. Although kids can go and there is alcohol, so you Mr. Grumpies need to read the story again. Alcohol is only served in theaters one and two and you can request your seating.

  12. Sam

    Wrong area for the concept, figures Donahue Schreiber would make a dumb mistake like this. It will be out of business in a year.

  13. Randy

    Great concept, but its WAY to expensive. Now we'll have to drive to Mira Mesa or La Jolla to see a movie. Kinda sucks!

  14. Davd

    To heck with it all…I'm sticking with La Paloma!!!

  15. Donna

    with 75 seats per theatre, i don't think they are planning on many families showing up. Sounds like date night – i hope they offer some exclusive movies.

  16. Scrappy

    Are you kidding? This gives a dinner and a movie date new meaning… Have dinner in a seven foot luxury recliner and take in the movie at the same time. Awesome!!! Not the best 1st or 2nd date, but after that… Let's face it fellas, can it really get any better? … As far as the location. Near Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, in Carmel Valley. This will be a huge success. Grab a matinee for $13.50 if you're budgeting.

  17. San Diego Traveler

    Same model as the iPic Theaters in Pasadena and Scottsdale. Love them both. Looking forward to going!

  18. empty nester

    My husband and I went to the opening of Cowboys and Aliens here. While they are still working some bugs of their systems, the overall experience was a great date night for us. The ability to reserve seats so you don't have to stand in a long line, having a glass of wine while to wait (desserts were great), and sink into great seats with a movable armrest, was worth the $20. Is it a place for children? No! Not just the expense, but the ambience is adult and I'm glad of it. I did my stint as "movie mom" 3 times over. Yes, it would be nice to have a theatre that is totally kid-friendly in Del Mar, but I'm going to be selfish and say this is the right place for a great date with my husband. We'll be back frequently!

  19. DadofThree

    Whatever happened to the Pacific Highlands Ranch theaters? Are they still coming? Sounds like the business climate is ripe for them to debut.

    I like the Cinepolis concept and would have no issues with taking my kids there given that 6 of the 8 theaters are no-alcohol, and that the other two have a 2-drink maximum. I just wont pay that much to take the whole family. We will have to try it out on "date night".

  20. Manny

    My girlfriend and I often made the trip to Tijuana to go to the VIP Cinepolis in the Plaza Rio mall. We often avoided "regular" movie theaters because of the abundance of noisy teenagers/children that usually go to the movies. This concept of luxury movie theaters is ideal for dates, and the best part is I don't have to cross into Tijuana to enjoy a movie. sure its pricey but it beats loud mouth teenagers and a 3 hr border wait.

  21. Upset

    OK, what about Seniors, single mom & family, way to expensive. We live in an upcale neighborhood and can afford it, however, a reasonable movie theater isn't too much to ask.I think if they had left FDlower Hill open in the area, so you still have an affordable theater, the new concept may be more acceptable,
    Well it is on to La Jolla for an affordable movie, kind of a joke since La Jolla is supposedly much more upscale the Carmel Valley.

  22. Ron

    I like the concept. Of course it will undergo some changes. especially pricewise. Its not for kids but if they incorporate a Happy Hour type bargain night for slower times or discount tix to get people in they could really get some repeat business. Everyone wants to the be a stick in the mud. Think of it this way. If someone released a business plan for a regular theatre right now you'd probably tell them that wouldn't work either.

  23. Guest

    it sounds great, but we don't have any theaters near us anymore that offer good prices and matinee discounts. have to drive to la jolla village now.

  24. mystery

    the part tat is unfair is that we didnt ask for any of this we didnt even get to think this through i mean if they had to change the movie theater wat was wrong w it?!

  25. skimore

    Great idea…am sick of people(often teens) who are checking their texts during movies, talking…
    they can go to Mira Mesa or La Jolla Village
    As far as kids go, there are 6 without alcohol.
    As for previous comments about not having input from the community…it's a private business! People vote on these with their

  26. skimore

    There are theaters elsewhere (Camelot in Palm Springs) which allow alcohol and they have been doing quite well. The addition of 'curbside service' for food and drinks add a nice element.
    As for the people complaining about the costs, there are many choices for your budget:
    Red Box= $1.00 for your whole family
    Nextflix= Monthly fee
    Television= free with antenna
    No one is forcing anyone to go (and pay)!!

  27. Sean

    I think this place sounds great. Expensive for a movie sure. But, everyone that is complaining about the recession or the lack of cash they have available just don't go. Like someone said this type of place is a niche market and it will cater to a certain class of people. No not everyone will be able to afford it. But, I think it is a fun concept and may provide decent investment opportunities.

  28. Scooby

    Just to clarify taking kid's to this theatre: room 1 and 2 are 21 and over only and yes you can buy alcohol. You can NOT buy alcohol in the other show rooms. This is a great movie theatre. My two son's 6 and 9 yr old loved it!! Wouldn't go anywhere else. Great date night with husband and friends!

  29. southcalgal

    It's awesome to know that us adults have an option of seeing a movie & having an alcoholic beverage in a more comfortable seat. And, hopefully the kids won't be there, it would be nice to have an adult place to go see a movie! I love it! Going to check it out sometime! I like the idea of the reserved seat & not standing in a long line. :)

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