Carmel Valley: Cinepolis luxury theater creating a buzz

By Claire Harlin

Staff Writer

Since its July 22 opening in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, the new Cinepolis luxury theater has got the community talking: Is it family friendly? Is the luxury worth the cost? Is it distracting to have wait staff serving guests during a movie?

Given Cinepolis’ unique concept — which incorporates not only a movie theater but a full-service bar and restaurant — questions have been flying and residents have been going out in droves to the theater, many getting turned away because seats have been selling out so fast.

The eight auditoriums at Cinepolis each hold 65 people, a smaller capacity than a typical theater, so general manager Antonio Garcia suggests purchasing tickets online far in advance in order to get a seat. Since its opening, he said, the theater has sold out almost every night.

“This is more of a VIP, exclusive experience,” said Garcia. “The whole idea is that people will be purchasing their tickets a month in advance.”

Guests of the theater are seated in leather reclining chairs that are paired in twos, similar to a loveseat, with a table in between each pair. An adjustable tray goes over the lap if needed, and a button can be used to call a server to order food and drinks.

Because the seats are in pairs, some have said Cinepolis caters more to couples and adults than to families with children.

Kevin Yedid of La Jolla, for example, said “it’s a good place for older people or dates.”

“It’s not great for families with younger kids because the seats aren’t close together, so it would be hard to watch the kids.”

Garcia, on the other handed, pointed out that Cinepolis’ cozy and elegant dining area and bar in the lobby offers parents a place to hang out while kids are in the theater watching a children’s movie. “The Smurfs,” he said, has been particularly popular with kids this week.

“We actually offer more quality family time because parents are not just dropping the kids off at a movie,” he said. “There something for them to do, too.”

The luxury experience comes at a higher price — about $5 to $9 more per ticket than an ordinary theater — but Garcia said that has definitely not been a complaint.

“We’re not catering to the masses. We’re here for guests who want to plan a night out and have a luxury experience with no teens running around and texting during the movie,” said Garcia. “We’re here for people who want to experience service and quality at another level.”

The following people were interviewed on Sunday, July 31, after seeing a movie at Cinepolis.