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A Seat Of One's Own

It's a choice between spontaneity and premeditation. It's the race down the theater aisle versus a box office attendant flashing a chart. It is the issue of movie theater reserved seating.



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New York City, with four reserved seating theaters, is the first U.S. city experimenting with the policy of requiring movie patrons to choose seats ahead of time. Los Angeles may be next, while theater owners in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston have expressed interest.

Here's how the system works:

  • Reserved seating includes every seat in a reserved seating theater. There is no special section.

  • Patrons must choose by selecting from a chart at the box office, or by reserving through MovieFone -- 777-FILM.

  • Purchasing a reserved seat through MovieFone adds an extra $1.50 onto the ticket price -- the same amount charged for ordering MovieFone tickets for a traditional theater. There is no surcharge for box office purchases.

  • If reserved seats are ordered through MovieFone, the ticket purchaser must first punch in the number of seats required. MovieFone then asks the patron to choose seats from either the front, middle, or back of a theater; the right, middle, or left sections. An aisle seat can be requested. The system will not split up a party.

  • Should your reserved seats turn out to be your own personal Armageddon (the seat's broken; your neighbors whistle Dixie; you're sitting behind Marge Simpson), there may be hope. Ushers, who are more prominent at reserved seating theaters, can help you relocate. At showings where the theater's half-empty, airplane rules apply: seats empty at the movie's start are fair game unless their owners arrive to claim them.

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A Seat Of One's Own || Cinema Deluxe
Poll: Reservations At The Movies?

Produced by Rob Medich.
Photo by Kimberly Townes

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