New seats at RMC

Effingham RMC Theaters general manager Tim Waltrip and Kelsey Webb prepare to enjoy the luxury seating recently installed in one of the movie auditoriums at Village Square Mall.

By Herb Meeker

News Report Staff

The audience for a showing of the movie “Wonder” received a surprise last Thursday night at the RMC movie theater in Village Square Mall.

They were the first to enjoy the new luxury seating installed in one of the viewing auditoriums. RMC Theaters plans to convert all its seating to the wider and comfy version for all eight screen venues.

“We received some really good comments from Effingham on the new seats,” said Doug Nobbe, RMC president of operations. “We hope to convert all our theaters there to the new seating in about two years.”

The work of installing the 94 new seats took a few days with RMC employees, including the owner of the movie chain, pitching in. This is the third RMC location to gain the luxury seats – theaters in Waterloo and South Jacksonville have been operating for some time with this change.

“We’ve gotten used to installing them. And everyone pitches in,” Nobbe said.

When you sit down in the new seats you notice the softness of the chairs built-in cup holders, as opposed to placement on a plastic armrest. In addition, RMC customers can place their popcorn or other goodies in an open space between the seats. No need to negotiate with your spouse or date on popcorn holding duty.

This is a big change from the theater seating your grandparents used to slide into over the years.

“People are not crammed in like sardines anymore in theaters. We are sacrificing on quantity, but it’s in favor of quality on seating,” Nobbe said. He added the new seating is a significant investment for the movie facility on the city’s south side.

The switch to luxury seating started several years ago in theaters drawing audiences from larger cities or in the suburbs. The idea was to offer seating more relaxing and comparable to what some movie lovers had in their homes, except for the option to tilt back the easy chair. The theory was if you were more comfortable you were willing to choose the big screen version of a movie over the TV screen. Now, the luxury seating is coming to smaller towns.

“We’re trying to bring that to a more rural area,” said Tim Waltrip, general manager for the Effingham theater. “This experience is a little bit more relaxed.”

Another recent change in the theater experience in Effingham involves alcohol sales. Those sales have been allowed for about a month since RMC received a city liquor license. It is another way to help draw movie lovers to the big screen. RMC has offered it in its other facilities, too.

If you’re wondering what happened to the old theater seats, the answer is simple. They were given away to people responding to a Facebook posting by RMC, Nobbe said. They didn’t shout it out too loudly though. When RMC offered 450 seats removed from its Waterloo facility, there was a mad rush for them. The giveaway was calmer in Effingham.

“If you showed up and could carry them away, they were yours,” Nobbe said.