The Cinépolis theater chain is setting up play areas inside individual theaters so kiddies can play while mommy and daddy (try to) watch the movie.
The house lights might even be left up during the movie so kids don’t have to find their way to the playground in the dark.
The first two “Cinépolis Junior” theaters will open next week in southern California, just in time to screen “Beauty and the Beast,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Cinépolis Pico Rivera auditorium in Los Angeles will hold 133 seats, and the Cinépolis Vista auditorium in San Diego will have 134 seats, the company says.
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Each will have giant play structures — 55 feet long and 25 feet high — with two slides.
“It’s really intended to make kids feel welcome and comfortable,” Adrian Mijares Elizondo, Cinépolis USA chief executive, told the 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.”
That might be the goal, but movie-goers are already hinting — more like shouting — that they’d rather stay home than be trapped inside a movie theater with a bunch of kids climbing over plastic hippos and throwing themselves into bean bag chairs.
Conservative news site PJ Media has declared the idea of playgrounds in movie theaters the “worst. moviegoing. experience. ever.”
“The only explanation for this new concept is that Cinépolis seeks to drive moviegoers to watch everything at home,” the website writes.
People on social media were just as cranky about the idea.
Duck. The Twitterati are throwing popcorn at the screen.
“The move comes at a time when most cinema chains — led by pioneer Alamo Drafthouse Cinema — are becoming increasingly strict about limiting disruptions in theaters by banning talking, phone calls, and texting,” writes Entertainment Weekly
“But the Cinépolis Junior concept goes 180-degrees in the other direction, creating a moviegoing experience that shrugs off the notion anybody should have to pay focused attention to a story for two hours straight.”
The Mexico-based theater chain opened the first of these bright-colored, kid-friendly theaters in 2014 in Mexico, where they’re called Sala Junior. They’re designed for kids ages 3 to 12.
Families can go in early before the movie so kids can play in a fenced-in play space at the front of the theater and use the slide and obstacle course on the side aisle.
The company will also offer what it calls “elevated snack favorites,” including new popcorn flavors such as Cheetos, caramel and chili.
The set-up might be kid-friendly, but the experience isn’t exactly budget-friendly.
“Tickets to these theaters cost about $3 more than regular shows, and that does not include the cost your eardrums may pay upon entering,” notes Consumerist.
Though patrons might not like the idea of free-range kids roaming about during a movie, one analyst told the Times that it just might bring families with young children back to the theater.
“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,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of ComScore.
“You might actually get more parents to come and bring their kids. Even in the greatest movies, kids get restless and bored.”