Friday, January 8, 2010

No Denying That Movie Theater is Good for the Sloop

So the Kerasotes ICON movie theater at Roosevelt Collection has now been open for a couple of weeks so we thought we would pass on our thoughts on the place now that the dust has begun to settle. Plainly stated, this movie theater is a good thing for the South Loop. Yes, there are some issues, but overall the issues are outweighed by the benefits.

Look and Feel
First off, the theater is beautiful, modern and stylish. It doesn't have cheesy cardboard ads in the lobby, there are no kids hanging out playing video games, and it's simple, but nice. It's definitely trying to appeal to an upscale market.

For a general admission ticket in the evening the price is $12.50 for an adult. After perusing some of the other theaters in the area our theater tends to be on the upper end of the price spectrum (from what we've seen tickets to movies in Chicago cost between $10 - $11). The one thing that justifies the premium at RC is the reserved seating function that is present in all the theaters. The nice thing about this is that you know where you're going to sit and if you have a large group you can see where your group can fit (which is usually a big problem when going to the movies with a large group).

If you're feeling like a baller and need the best of the best, there is the VIP seating area. These tickets go for $17.50 in the evening and are only available at two of the 16 theaters (which typically play the biggest box office movies). The VIP section has more room, leather seats and a small table area between every two seats. The other interesting thing is that you're allowed to bring drinks (of the adult variety) and food into the theater from the second floor lounge. Beyond that it doesn't look like there is any other reason to pony up the extra $5 unless you're feeling special and want to be considered "VIP".

Picture and Sound Quality
We don't claim to be movie or tech geeks but wow! Both the picture and sound quality of the movie we saw was amazing. Super clear picture and the sounds seemed to come from everywhere. Simply put, this probably is the most important thing about a good theater and Kerasotes ICON doesn't disappoint in this area.

2nd Floor Lobby Lounge
If you're a fan of the interior design at Opera, Carnivale, Gioco and Red Light then chances are you will like this space. Jerry Kleiner, brings a unique feel to the movie theater with his lounge on the second floor. Although it doesn't seem to be as over the top as some of his restaurants, it's still got an unusual chic feel that makes it unique.

We didn't have a chance to check out any of the food or drinks, but we've been told things were solid. The thing that strikes you the most about the space is the gorgeous view of the skyline to the north (you've probably seen it if you've driven on Roosevelt between State and Canal). Although the lounge is great, it's hard to imagine that people will come if they aren't going to see a movie (however that's probably not the point of it anyway). Regardless, it's a nice touch and makes this movie theater more unique then the standard run of the mill one.

Staff and Concessions
One thing is clear, there are a lot of people working at this theater. Maybe this was due to the opening and getting out of the gate with plenty of help, but regardless there was someone at every corner waiting to assist you. This was nice, but in our opinion a little much. However it's hard to complain about too much service.

When I went to get the official tour, I was taken around by a great manager who was super excited about the capabilities and features of the theater. So there is definitely some pride at this theater which seemed evident throughout the staff.

The concessions are also a little different at this theater. There are coffees, pizza and I'm pretty sure I saw ice cream. Everything was expensive, but on par with most movie theaters. The one thing that intrigued us was the popcorn with real butter. We payed an extra 40 or 50 cents for it and to be honest couldn't tell the difference.

Roosevelt Collection
Roosevelt collection has potential. It's easy to envision a bustling shopping complex with a variety of stores and restaurants anchored by a great movie theater. However, right now it's barren and eerie. Being the optimists that we are, we're still excited about the retail at Roosevelt Collection and can't wait until it begins to show signs of life.

Our one gripe about the complex is that it feels like it's walled off and a self contained environment. To be fair to RC, it's a good design given the issues with the above grade road at Roosevelt. It's hard to integrate within the community when one of the main access point (at Roosevelt road) is approximately three stories above ground level. It's a good design, but the complex still feels a little independent.

Like we said, the positives outweigh the negatives here. The movie theater will bring people to the South Loop and that's a good thing for businesses, retail and restaurants. It's also good for us, the residents of the neighborhood, since we won't have to schlep north to see a movie anymore.


Anonymous said...

I saw Sherlock Holmes there last Saturday. I was impressed by the place. The reserved seating is definitely a big plus.

The sound was great for the movie. The view from our seat was good not great I would say. We were sitting in the middle in the 2nd to last row of the reserved section. The VIP seating was behind us. Even from the 2nd to last row of the reserved section, I thought I was a little too close to the screen. Being a little further back would have been nicer.

Overall though, I enjoyed the experience. My wife and I will definitely be going back there to watch movies from now on.

Anonymous said...

I was really looking forward to this theater, and I am sure I will make frequent use of its convenience. Overall I had a good experience there, but I do have a couple of minor complaints.

Customer service. They need to know how much is too much. I'm a single male in my twenties and I go to the movies by myself more than I go with anyone else. I love movies. I am a movie guy. And since I go so often, I know how a theater works.

From the moment I walked in, I saw an electronic kiosk and said, "Oh good. Very convenient." Then an attendant ran up to me and proceeded to show me how to use something I am competent in figuring out on my own. She fumbled around, slowed me down, and watched over my shoulder, making me feel nervous, all the while making friendly, meaningless chit chat.

Up the escalator to the concession stand. I felt like I went through three checkpoints of employees just to go this small distance, each wishing me a pleasant day and greeting me over enthusiastically. Just want a damn beverage!

Line moved quick. The employees in the concession stand were friendly, upbeat and helpful. The concession stand is a place that traditionally needs employees and friendliness. This is one place I was glad for it.

Then I turned around and headed for the theaters. The guy who tore my ticket stub asked me to tell him how the movie was because he wanted to see it. All the way down a long hallway, I was greeted by an employee about every ten feet, each slowing me down for an obligatory hi. It's like having 20 sales people attack you in a store, only in this case I had already bought what they were trying to sell me. I just wanted to go about my way in peace.

A pleasant young woman lead me to my seat once I reached the theater, in case I couldn't read numbers and letters. And since there ended up being just me and two other parties in the auditorium for the movie, I can see why this is important enough to pay someone to do it.

After the movie, I hoped for a refill on my large beverage, but I was informed that they do not do refills. They did it for me, "this one time," which was friendly - but all I could think was, "Seriously? This place can afford to pay a ridiculous number of people to stand at every corner and interrupt me from getting peacefully from point A to point B, but they can't fill me a second cup of Diet Coke for the already exorbitant rate I paid for it to begin with?"

Anonymous said...

If you're into audio/video quality, this place has the best picture quality and sound in any theater around downtown. I heard they use Barco digital projectors. I've seen a Sherlock Holmes and Parnassus and the picture quality is extremely crisp, no noise, and the image is rock solid. Some of the older theaters around here has hair lines and jittery images. At showplace it's basically like watching blu-ray, but a bigger screen and higher resolution.

Anon (SC) said...

Just an idea.. can someone take our notes here and send an email
to Kerasotes..they do read and reply. I think it is important that they get feedback.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING NEWS from Crains: Kerasotes just sold to AMC.