If Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas has its way, it will become the Disneyland of movie theaters, and Laguna Niguel its newest ride.
Next spring, the movie-going experience here will include high-back leather recliners, waiters and sushi. Plus a full bar.
Cinepolis, a Latin American theater chain, will take over the Ocean Ranch Cinema at the Ocean Ranch Center on Oct. 1. Edwards has anchored the center for 20 years.
According to Carlos Wellman, Cinepolis' managing director, Laguna Niguel will be the company's third theater in Southern California, following Del Mar and La Costa.
"We've been flying under the radar for a while now with this location," he said. "But we have signed the lease and ... we will be doing a complete revamp inside. ... We are presently working on the architectural details and obtaining permits."
Work should be completed in five to six months and the posh theater is expected to open in April 2012, he said.
Cinepolis plans to open four other theaters in the coming year, but Wellman would not elaborate on the locations. Wellman said the plan is to open between five and seven theaters in the next 24 months as a prelude to opening in other areas of the country.
"We are very particular on where we choose to put a theater," he said. "We chose Laguna Niguel because of its demographics and the amount of people in a 3- to 5-mile radius. In addition, this is a free film zone, meaning the competition is very low."
The only nearby theaters are the Edwards Imax in Aliso Viejo and the in Laguna Niguel, which typically features independent films.
"While we love the exterior of the Laguna Niguel theater, the inside really needs to be revamped," he said. "We're going to make it cleaner, sleeker and make the inside look as good as the outside.
“The movie business and large movie theater companies have lost the personalized touch, leaving a need for a premium movie theater experience. Most theater locations are rundown and dated. We want
to change that practice and provide a boutique theatre experience that’s memorable, enjoyable and fun for families.”
Cinepolis will screen new movies and blockbuster hits in seven auditoriums that will feature state-of-the-art digital equipment, HD, 3-D and Surround Sound technologies. Each auditorium will seat guests in custom-designed, high-back, leather recliners that offer 7 feet of space to lean back or kick up the footrest.
The seats will also come equipped with a waiter service button so guests won’t have to leave the auditorium to grab a snack.
The food menu will include standard movie fare, such as popcorn and candies, in addition to gourmet finger-foods, artisan sandwiches, wine and cheese.
Pricing will be comparable to the average restaurant menu, Wellman said.
The venue will also host live-feed concerts, sporting events and more, he said.
"It is our goal to make the community feel like they are part of the movie experience," he said. "When you see a movie at Cinepolis, it's more of a social gathering. We're adding all kinds of new things and basically breaking all the rules."
Movie-goers can expect to pay between $13.50 and $18 a ticket.
"Yes, tickets will be more, just by a few dollars, but they are getting so much more," Wellman said. "Some people will complain about the prices. Others will come for just a special occasion, while others won't think twice."
He likened the experience to going to Disneyland.
"You don't go to Disneyland every day, right?'" he said. "You go for a special occasion or maybe once a year. But some people go as much as they want."
Cinepolis opened its first theater in Mexico in 1947 and has become the largest movie chain in Latin America and fourth largest in the world. Cinepolis developed its “VIP” luxury experience in 1999 and ventured into several South American countries and India, but San Diego County is its first American presence.