NYC's growing dine-in movie theater scene has a new addition.
South Florida-based iPic Theaters is opening its first luxury bar-lounge-theater in the city at South Street Seaport on Friday, Oct. 7. Before we get into the details, an important note: The theater is giving away free tickets to new members of its free loyalty program if you sign up before Oct. 12 (tickets must be used by Oct. 16).
The company’s ethos is “the only reason people stop going to movie theaters is because the experience isn’t good enough,” so they’ve revamped every part of it for comfort, privacy and style. The lobby looks more like the entrance to a lounge, with low lighting and mood music, where you’ll also find the first of several pieces of street-style art (hallways in iPic theaters are called galleries).
The first set of escalators take you upstairs to a concession stand where the popcorn is free(!) and utensil-free food options like steak sliders and a deconstructed tuna roll are made on-site from a menu created by Wolfgang Puck veteran Sherry Yard. Oh, and there's a full bar with an extensive wine menu. Upstairs on the third floor is Tuck Room, a full-service restaurant and bar.
The theater has eight screening rooms, and you choose your (spacious!) seats when you purchase tickets in either the Premium ($16) or Premium Plus ($27) sections. Premium seats are closer to the screen, do not recline and are self-service, while the Premium Plus section is full service and made up of two-person pods that “offer intimacy without a sound barrier.”
This is not just hype: At a recent press preview, we found the pods’ walls to reach high enough to allow for cellphone use and even conversation without disturbing others. The pods also have a button to summon iPic’s "ninja servers" to take your order at any point during the film. Tip: If you buy your tickets through the theater’s app, you can also preorder food and drinks to be at your seat when you arrive.
The pod seats recline fairly far (and also have a leg rest), and each comes with a pillow and blanket. In case you were wondering, yes, people do fall asleep in the pods: A man gently snored through a few minutes of "The Girl on the Train" at our screening before being roused by one of the staff.
As nice as they are, will the pods retain the shared live theater experience? And just as importantly, will any of this get some civility back into movie-going? The Theater at Fulton Market is iPic's 15th nationwide, so they're certainly onto something, and this could be the beginning of a late-night scene for the Seaport. And is there any movie that couldn't be improved by cocktail delivery?