Recliners to make Bradenton's Oakmont 8 truly a moviehouse

Bradenton theater to be among the first Regal Cinemas to have luxury chairs

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 17, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Regal Oakmont 8 will soon feel more like a living room than a moviehouse.

The theater is removing hundreds of flip seats and replacing them with king size recliners, allowing people to put their feet up without kicking the folks in front.

Each of the eight auditoriums is set to have the seats by July, according to Regal officials.

It is welcomed news for the Holwerda family, who stopped in Friday to see "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

"It'll feel like you're at home," Emily Holwerda said.

Plus, it'll be easier to control the little ones, like their son Croix Holwerda.

"Those flip seats are hard to keep the kids' butts down, so these will be a lot more kid-friendly," she said.

Her husband chuckled, saying most of the time kids end up on top of those flip seats.

The family tried out similar chairs at the Muvico in Boca Raton and enjoyed it, Adam Holwerda said.

"This will definitely be a big upgrade," he said.

A couple seats serve as the theaters' coming attraction allowing guests to try them out in the lobby before the first four auditoriums are complete.

Regal's chief marketing officer Ken Thewes said the seats will enhance the viewing experience.

"The spaciousness and comfort help you lose yourself in the story and become more immersed in the movie," he said.

The theater, 4801 Cortez Road W, also recently upgraded to digital projectors, phasing out the celluloid film era. The auditorium upgrades will also include new carpeting and wall treatments.

"The installation of recliners is a cutting edge concept in movie going," Regal spokeswoman Christine White said. "Regal Cinemas Oakmont 8 is among one of the first Regal theaters in the country to receive luxury reclining seats."

It is also the first theater in the Bradenton-Sarasota area to feature recliners.

The seats should pro

vide better sight lines with unobstructed views of the screen, she added, and can allow the theater to be competitive.

The first-run theater is the only moviehouse in Bradenton city limits, competing against other theaters that have newer amenities and renovations, including Carmike Cinema's Royal Palm 20 and Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, which both have stadium seating.

A cineplex could also be built beside the Mall at University Town Center, as Benderson Development Co., which also owns the Oakmont Terrace shopping center, has pre-approval to build one there. Instead of relocating to a bigger space, the Oakmont has stayed put since 1989 under different ownership. Regal took control of the R.C. Cobb cinema in 1996, and renewed its lease in 2004.

Regal owned another theater on Cortez Road, the Bradenton 8 in Shoppes of Paradise Bay, that closed in 2001 during bankruptcy reorganization. The DeSoto Square 6, which reopened under a different brand as a dollar theater, also closed during the reorganization.

So far, Regal has received positive reviews for the seat addition in its theaters across the country.

"Regal constantly listens to our guests and looks for ways to improve. With this new concept, these luxurious recliners have scored extremely well," said Rob Del Moro, chief technical and theatre operations officer.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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