Regal Winter Park launches renovations

Seat replacement will boost comfort, lower capacity

regal-cinemas-winter-parkFrom The Orlando Weekly, September 29, 2016

Regal Cinemas Stadium 20 at Winter Park Village, in Winter Park, Florida, is in the middle of a renovation that will install reclining, sofa-style seats with footrests while slashing theater capacity by about 60 percent. The new chairs, similar to those at Artegon Cinemark, will dramatically improve viewer comfort but reduce the number of seats by roughly 60 percent.

All 20 of the building’s theaters will be renovated by January. According to Regal staff, the capacity of the two largest houses will drop from 479 to 168, affecting not just regular theater-goers but future Florida Film Festival patrons too. The two next-largest screens will see capacity lowered from 280 to 140. The two smallest houses will go from 85 to 36. (These numbers include spaces for wheelchairs.)

If you’re wondering why Regal would spend millions of dollars to reduce its capacity, check out this Wall Street Journal article from 2014, which analyzed a similar strategy adopted by AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

Though Regal would not confirm whether tickets prices for the new auditoriums would increase immediately, industry analysts expect prices to go up eventually (and more dramatically than at non-renovated theaters). The theater will remain open during the renovations.

The Enzian Theater has not yet announced how it plans to compensate for the potential loss of seats at the 2017 Florida Film Festival. The festival currently uses its own 230-seat auditorium and two houses at Regal. Though the Enzian may be expanding to three screens for the 2018 Florida Film Festival, thus slightly reducing its dependence on Regal, the renovations at Regal will affect next year’s festival.

For instance, the total seating capacity for the 2016 festival was roughly 700. But if the 2017 event uses the Enzian and the two largest screens now available at Regal, that capacity would be reduced to roughly 530. This might necessitate the use of more screens at Regal, perhaps most of an entire wing (similar to the format of the Sarasota Film Festival, which takes over roughly half of downtown Sarasota’s Regal Cinema every year). In addition, the opening-night film would likely move from Regal to the Enzian, as the latter will soon be larger than any of Regal’s screens.

The Enzian declined to comment until they have consulted with Regal Cinemas.

Copyright 2016 © Orlando Weekly

Note: This story was updated with corrected numbers on March 28, 2017. The original version implied that the Florida Film Festival rented the largest of the Regal houses, which was based on information supplied to me by Regal at the time of original publication. However, the Florida Film Festival claims it never rented the largest screen but instead occupied screens with capacities of 279 and 179.