The movie theater experience of waiting in line for an hour to get tickets and hoping to get a good seat is a thing of the past thanks to online ticket purchases and reserved seating in various Bakersfield theaters.
All five movie theaters in town give moviegoers the chance to reserve seats. The feature is available in all theaters at AMC, Edwards, Maya and Studio Movie Grill. Reading Cinemas offers the feature only in its IMAX theater.
Customers can pick seats and purchase tickets through the theaters' websites or through Fandango.com or the Fandango app.
Chief Operating Officer of Maya Cinemas Francisco Schlotterbeck said the option is a way to reconvert the moviegoing experience and offers several benefits.
"They have more time to get to the theater and are less stressed to get parking on Friday and Saturday nights," he said about purchasing tickets online and reserving seats. "They don’t have that sense of urgency to get into the theater because they need to find a spot."
Maya Cinemas at 1000 California Ave. in Bakersfield began offering reserved seats after it completed a full remodel in December 2018. The $6 million upgrade included adding plush Palliser recliner seating in every auditorium and a D-Box auditorium, which adds motion to seats.
Bakersfield residents Emily Churchfield and Brian Yanez were waiting for friends Thursday night before heading into Maya Cinemas. It was their first time coming to the theater since renovations were complete. Though they don't see movies often, they like having the option to buy tickets online and reserve seats.
"You don't have to worry about fighting with people over seats and you don't have to hold seats for your friends," Yanez said.
"It's definitely easier," Churchfield agreed.
It also helps large groups like theirs find seats next to each other, they added.
Rosie Landeros, a Bakersfield resident and frequent moviegoer, likes that the hassle of hoping to find a good seat in the theater has been essentially eliminated.
"You get to have a set seat and you don't have to struggle and look around and find one," she said.
Edwards Cinemas at The Marketplace rolled out the feature in June 2018, and it has changed the movie going experience for Ken Phillips and Ryan Hickman.
"You don't need to worry about getting here early," Hickman said.
"People strategically know where they want to sit, so it gives you more room to pick and you don't need to be engulfed by other people," Phillips added.
The theater also recently announced the Regal Unlimited movie subscription pass. For just $18 a month, guests can watch as many movies as they want and as many times as they want for a month. Subscribers use the service through the Regal app or at the box office.
Hickman said he would be interested in the service if he was single.
"They need to bring in a family plan," said the father of five. "If it was $50 a month for families I would get it."
AMC also offers a similar service, AMC Stubs A-List, where subscribers can see up to three movies a week. The service costs $23.95. Schlotterbeck said a similar service has been talked about for Maya Cinemas, but there are no official details available.
Many theaters are also expanding their food and drink options. Guests can order quesadillas, pizza and burgers along with their standard popcorn and candy at the concessions counter at Reading Cinemas, while Studio Movie Grill allows guests to order directly from their seats and have food brought to them, including beer, wine and cocktails. AMC also has MacGuffins Bar next to its concessions.
Those features are nice, but many don't think they are a necessity to having an enjoyable theater experience.
"I'm just a popcorn girl," Churchfield said.