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Constructing the Modern Movie Theater

Constructing the Modern Movie Theater

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By Alex Getelman, Executive Managing Director, MBI Group.
With the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, today’s movie theaters have had to take on a new leading role: as a destination, with an improved customer experience and entertainment featuring better special effects than ever before. Gone are the dated theaters of the past; today, customer comfort is key as the spaces themselves have gotten larger and more tech-savvy.
MBI Group, a full-service construction firm providing interior fit-outs and core and shell construction, has completed several major movie theater projects in the New York City area. On behalf of Regal Entertainment Group, MBI Group recently completed a new 13-screen movie theater located at 321 Merrick Road in Lynbrook, New York. The 83,000 SF state-of-the-art theater features a Regal Premium Experience (RPX) theater with surround sound, movies that feature realistic 2D and 3D images, and vibrating seats with built-in speakers. The firm also completed Regal Entertainment Group’s new Flagship theater at the incredible Essex Crossing, an unprecedented mixed-use development in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The theater features 14 screens, each with stadium seating and reclining seats.
Theater Construction
There’s more infrastructure in movie theaters than any other project type. When you build out a movie theater, there’s a floor between the theater floors and there’s a mezzanine behind each theater called a projection room. In the projection room, which is another continuous floor level, is its own independent, redundant setup for each theater. Each screen has its own generator, its own screening gear, its own air conditioner. The thought is that if one goes wrong, there are still others that can operate.
Once the infrastructure has been completed, each theater must be shell ready to receive the owner’s furniture: the chairs, carpeting, lights and screens get delivered and installed. It must be scheduled exactly right, to ensure everything arrives in order and not at once; and the theaters must be completely dust free to receive the fancy finishes.
Preventing Sound Transmission
Sound transmission prevention is an important part of constructing a theater. You don’t want to hear sound from theater to theater, up or down. Sometimes new theaters are in residential or mixed use buildings, creating the additional need for a buffer. To prevent sound transmission, each theater is isolated, with spring layers and concrete floors. It’s a box in a box—there are four layers of ceiling, and the floor has another layer. The result is powerful sound in the theater, but not outside of it.
The Customer-Friendly Theater
From new food and drink options, to alcoholic beverages, theaters are getting creating in filling their seats, from the early matinee to the late show. To increase customer comfort, new larger movie theater chairs —featuring their own speakers, vibrating features and even water that squirts out as part of the movie—are installed. Each seat has its own wiring setup, and with over 100 seats per screen, this can be a labor-intensive part of the process. The result is worth it, with each guest receiving a full experience of vibrations, sound and even water.
Finishing the Project
As you try to get a dozen or more screens ready, you are building the concessions, the bathrooms, box offices, main entrance, elevators, escalators, all the finishes that go along with what people see when they go into theaters. Theaters today are trying to create a full and memorable customer experience: a Starbucks in the theater, gourmet food and drinks offerings, better seats that are comfortable and offer high-tech features, and much more. This has made theaters one of the most complicated yet rewarding project types to work on.
About MBI Group
Founded in 1987, MBI Group is a certified minority-owned business (MBE) with a 30-year track record of success working for some of New York City’s most prominent corporate, healthcare and educational clients. Today headed by Edward Campanella-Rodriguez, President, along with Alex Getelman, Executive Managing Director, the firm serves the tristate area and beyond from their Manhattan offices.


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