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Larger seats will mean more intimate experience, shorter lines, local manager says

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FARMINGTON — The Allen 8 movie theater at 1819 E. 20th St. has closed for major renovations to its eight auditoriums.

Renovations include remodeled hallways, fresh paint, a new tile centerpiece in the lobby and, most notably, new reclining seats.

Phillip Stewart, general manager of Farmington’s Allen theaters, said there will be 528 new luxury electric recliners with swivel trays, wide arm rests and extended leg room installed for a reopening on Nov. 3.

The new seats, which are larger and more comfortable than traditional fixed seats, will mean smaller capacity in individual theaters. There will be a 60-percent decline in total capacity after the remodel, but Stewart said the smaller capacity offers some advantages.

“The larger seats mean less capacity in each theater, and from the customer perspective, it means shorter lines and less waits pretty much around the board,” Stewart said. 

Read: 10 movies you absolutely must see this fall, from 'It' to 'Wonderstruck'

The theater has taken potential seat-availability issues into account — all tickets sold at the Allen 8 will be assigned a seat, Stewart said. Ticket booths will have a digital display of the auditorium for patrons to choose their seats, and online ticket sales also will include seating reservation requirements. Ushers will monitor auditoriums to make sure seats and patrons are accounted for.

Ticket prices will increase by $2, with matinees now at $9 and evening shows at $11, Stewart said. An additional $2 surcharge remains for 3D showings.

Though he wouldn’t reveal the exact cost, Russell Allen, president of Allen Theaters Inc., said the renovation costs are substantial — to the tune of “several hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Allen said it’s a worthy investment for the company, and not just in Four Corners.

“We're just trying to give the community the best that’s available in our industry,” Allen said. “Luxury power seating is the next trend in our business, and we’re going to start doing more installs.”

The Allen 8 will be the third of the Allen theaters throughout the state to get a seat upgrade — similar renovations have been finished at the Telshor 12 in Las Cruces and the Galaxy 8 in Roswell, Allen said. The company, which began in Farmington, has 14 theaters in 10 New Mexico cities, plus two theaters in Durango, Colo., according to the company website. 

Stewart said the remodel didn’t create any new jobs, and the staff, which consists of 70 to 100 employees at the two local theaters, depending on the season, will remain the same size.

The Allen 8 is one of two Allen theaters in Farmington, including the Animas 10 located in the Animas Valley Mall. The Allen 8 opened in 1995, and the lobby and restrooms were remodeled in 2011, Steward said.

There are no plans for renovations at the Animas 10, which opened in 2006, but Allen said the renovation projects will continue throughout the rest of Allen’s theaters and that it may “swing back around” around to Farmington’s newer theater. However, a change is afoot there, too — Steward said reserved seating likely will begin at the mall theater after the holidays.

The Allen 8 closed Oct. 5 for the renovations, and Stewart said it should reopen by Nov. 3.

Though the shows — starting with the opening of "Thor: Ragnarok" — will go on after the Nov. 3 public reopening, Stewart said a grand reopening event is in the works for the future.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621.

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