Friday, September 29, 2023

Is The First In-Theater Playground Hell On Earth Or Heaven For Parents?

Welcome to the ninth circle of hell: A movie theater that doubles as a playground for parents who want to bring their popcorn-covered offspring to date night.

Opened in two Southern California locations this month, the Cinepolis Junior movie theaters screened the new Beauty and the Beast remake. Designed for kids ages three to 12 — by someone who apparently has never taken a child to a public place, let alone to a space meant for quiet focus — the new theaters charge $3 extra for the added benefit of a jungle gym alongside the rows.

The play structures will be 55 feet long and 25 feet high, and include slides and bean bag chains. Families will be let into the theater early to play, and allowed to stay 15 minutes after the movie for more playtime. The company is considering leaving the house lights on during the film so no one breaks anything playing on a jungle gym in the dark, according to the Kansas City Star.

“It’s really intended to make kids feel welcome and comfortable,” Cinepolis USA Chief Executive Adrian Mijares Elizondo told the LA Times. “The whole idea is to make it easier for parents to take their kids to the movies and let the kids have more fun.”

“Some may argue that it’s disrespectful to the movie, but in this scenario it may be the best way for the kids to experience the film,” box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of ComScore added. “You might actually get more parents to come and bring their kids. Even in the greatest movies, kids get restless and bored.”

Cinepolis, the world’s fourth-largest cinema operator, was also among the first theater chains to add alcohol to the movie-going experience. If the kid-friendly experiment takes off, the company plans to add three or four new playground theaters per year for the next four or five years. Hopefully, all of them also come with a full bar.

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