The cinema industry is evolving in every aspect. From the movies and events at the theater to screening technology to dining options, cinemas are changing to compete both with other activities and streaming a movie at home. Live events like concerts and sporting events are joined by at-home streaming services and activities like escape rooms and guided crafting activities, leaving us with plenty of options for a night out.
The Role of The Seat in Cinema Experience
To compete, cinemas will need to offer patrons a unique experience. One place to start is the seat. Whether patrons are coming for a showing of a classic film or the latest superhero blockbuster, they will spend the majority of their visit in their seat. Could you imagine sitting through Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame for three hours, plus previews and a post-credit bonus scene, in a hard, unsupportive chair and squished against fellow audience members?
Whether the film is 90 or 180 minutes, where patrons sit plays a big role in their overall experience. Comfort and the level of privacy can make or break the time patrons spend at your theater. Luxury recliners and rockers offer patrons comfier seats and more space between them and their neighbors, but the right seat won’t make turnover and maintenance cumbersome for staff.
Cinema Seating: Recliners & Rockers
When it comes to luxury cinema seating, there are two options: recliners and rockers. Recliners are reminiscent of our beloved Lazy Boy sofa, and they can be outfitted with a variety of features we’ll dive into in the next section. On the other hand, rocker seats are a step up in comfort from traditional self-raising chairs, but they don’t have all the features of a recliner.
The Dilemma: Capacity vs Comfort
Recliners are the ultimate luxury seating, but they do take up more space. Often times, a balance between recliners and rockers must be found both in a single screening room and throughout the cinema.
For example, a few rows of recliners might be placed at the front of the screening room, but rows on risers behind them would be rockers. Additionally, for a larger screening room, the entire space could be rockers to accommodate large crowds on opening weekends. A smaller screening room might be filled with recliners, offering a unique experience for special showing events that draw a smaller crowd, like a classic or foreign film.
The Ultimate Cinema Seating Experience
Recliners offer a variety of options to suit the needs of cinema patrons and staff. In addition to the obvious reclining, there’s an endless combination of features and accessories to make your cinema’s seating experience truly unique.
Power Recline: A good recliner glides back and up with a powered motor, not a clunky lever. This allows each patron to recline the seat at the position they like best.
Swivel Tablet Arm: The growing variety of cinema concessions means patrons need more than a cup holder for their movie-watching snacks. A swivel tablet accessory offers patrons a space for a plated entree like a juicy burger or loaded nachos. The tablet swivels from over the armrest in front of the patron, and it can be easily pushed back over the armrest.
Privacy Panel: While watching movies with other fans is a fun experience, we do like our space from our neighbors. A small privacy panel on either side of a pair of recliners doesn’t obstruct the view of the screen but does allow you to shed some tears over your favorite character without your neighbor knowing.
Lift-up Center Arm: A center arm that lifts up to create a loveseat, making it more comfortable to sit with your date or hold a child.
Cinema Turnover Approved
A big comfy seat for your patrons shouldn’t be a headache for your staff. A quick turnover between screenings helps your cinema squeeze in more showings, but cleaning a theater for the next audience still has to be thorough. The right recliner has easy-to-clean seat fabrics and plastic or vinyl backings and finishes that can be quickly wiped down between screenings.
Snacks get away from us in the excitement of a film, falling between the seats. At Irwin Seating, we’ve created a 3D printed popcorn deflector that fits over the internal reclining mechanism of all our reclining models to protect it from stray crumbs and channel them to the floor, where they can be easily swept up by staff. In addition to protecting the mechanism, staff don't need to get into the seats to clean, which speeds up turnover and isn’t as physically taxing.
All in the Details
Your cinema has a unique character and style that your seating shouldn’t interfere with. A good recliner comes in a variety of fabrics, finishes, and stitching options that will make your seats fit right in. A wide color selection for fabric and finishes for your recliner helps match your cinema’s existing color palette. Don’t forget about tiny details, like contrasting thread and quilted stitching, that can add that extra something to suit the character of your cinema and the experience you offer.
The experience you offer for the patrons of your cinema is what will keep them coming back (and maybe bring their friends). As the spot your patrons will spend most of their time, your seats are a starring role in their cinema experience.