By Tim Nasson
I have been to the grand openings of literally dozens of movie theaters around the country during the past 35 years; Loews Lincoln Square, Loews EWOK, Loews Burlington, Loews Framingham, AMC Boston Common, AMC Assembly Row, iPic Scottsdale, iPic Westwood, to name just a few.
And then there was the opening of ArcLight Cinemas Boston. I hate the word ‘epic’. But I am making an exception. The opening night of ArcLight Boston was an epic fail.
From the moment I walked into the dark, cold lobby, the negative energy and bad vibes were rampant at Arclight Cinemas Boston.
As someone who grew up in Boston, who is in the media, and who knows virtually every relevant media person in Massachusetts and the United States, I was looking for the A-list Boston press at the Arclight Cinemas Boston opening night event.
The night I was there was a two-fer, the grand opening of the ArcLight Boston and the New England premiere of the (awful) Adam Sandler movie Uncut Gems. You’d think that the movie studio hosting the premiere and the publicist hired by the theater for the opening (and to get the word out about the theater to Bostonians),a legend in her own mind, Boston publicist Lynne Kortenhaus, (and her part time helper, Boston publicist Regan Dillon), would have had the hindsight to invite media that mattered to an opening like a movie theater. (According to my sources, they’re getting the heave-ho from corporate because of how awful they did their job). Instead, there were about two dozen “food” writers. There was a total of ONE article about the opening of the theater and the premiere in all of New England. There were over 1200 people in attendance, all invited “VIPs” and “media.” I actually asked Regan Dillon, after seeing Janet Wu walk in, who had no business being there under the guise of ‘press,’ why she was there. Everyone who is anyone knows that Janet Wu will go to the opening of an envelope if it includes free food and drink. “She is interviewing the CEO of Arclight for Bloomberg,” said Regan Dillon. There was no interview ever published, or featured on the Bloomberg radio show that Wu contributes to (and no one listens to) let alone on Bloomberg. Literally, none of the press who would have written about the Arclight Cinemas Boston grand opening and premiere were invited to the grand opening and movie premiere.
Sandler and (laughable) costar of the film, Kevin Garnett, were in attendance, but had about as much enthusiasm, combined, than an usher in the theater would have when told to go clean up an overflowing toilet full of feces.
Vince Szwajkowski, chief marketing officer of the ArcLight chain, which hails from Los Angeles, wasted countless tens of thousands of dollars importing a clownish ‘security’ team from Florida. Seriously? In Boston, one of the Top 5 cities in the country for concerts, major sports teams and events and colleges, there is never a need to outsource security for any event. There were at least 25 members of ‘security’ from this Florida based team that walked around in formal attire pretending that they were at the MET gala, protecting the crown jewels and the likes of Madonna and Elton John (both of whom I have been to parties with and have never seen such security measures taken).
After meeting and speaking to Vince Szwajkowski, it was clear to me that he was in over his head, completely unqualified for the job, having a ‘deer in the headlights’ glare on his face.
Now we get to the actual aesthetics of the theater. Dark, depressing, cave-like are three words that come to mind to describe it. As for the seats, just go to YELP and find the honest reviews, not the fake ones from what seem to be employees of ArcLight, and you will see that the seats are the worst imaginable for comfort.
As for the ArcLight Cinemas Boston ‘attention to details,’ no one is impressed. They’re laughing, literally (again, go to Yelp and read the real reviews).
In all honesty, the ArcLight Cinemas Boston ‘rules’ for moviegoers at its theater seem even stronger than the rules Nazis’ had for their prisoners. Their ZIP IT rule dictates ‘no talking.’ Sounds great on the surface. But what if you whispered to your neighbor, ‘please move your feet, I need to go to the restroom.’ Chances are an usher might throw you out for ‘talking.’
On normal days of business, if you arrive 5 minutes after the movie starts (meaning the previews) you are not let in. Not sure how that works if you buy your tickets online and arrive 10 minutes after showtime. I am assuming that you are given a refund. Nonetheless, imagine being told that you can’t go into the theater 6 minutes after the previews start, even though the previews run a minimum of 15 minutes – when there are literally 3 other people in the auditorium that seats over 100.
Even the best theaters in NYC that show Tony winning plays and charge hundreds of dollars a ticket allow ushers to direct late comers to their seat at an appropriate time, and let them stand in the back to watch until they are shown to their seat.
ArcLight Cinemas Boston clearly hasn’t figured out a way to let the audience use the toilet in their seat. I can’t think of what the difference is between someone arriving 15 minutes late (during previews, mind you) and someone else who is already there getting up to go to the concession stand or to pee 45 minutes into the film.
There are the AUTOMATED KIOSKS for ordering concession items. Customers hate them. (YELP!).
Popcorn is served in buckets. ArcLight Cinemas Boston says it helps with the noise that paper bags would cause. The only thing I have ever heard in a movie theater when it comes to popcorn is the person’s mouth chomping on it, not the bag the popcorn is contained in.
All in all, I am predicting that this theater is going to be shuttered within a year.
ArcLight Cinemas Boston has a ten year lease but it will cost them less to back out of their lease than stay around and hemorrhage millions of dollars a year, instead, due to lack of business – because of their utter incompetence.
Movie theaters of yore, think 1970s and 80s single screen second run theaters, had charm, and created memories never to be forgotten, even if the seats were uncomfortable and the screen was hard to see because a lady’s hat was blocking your view. All in all Arclight Boston is the worst movie theater I have ever been to. Forget about scary movies giving you nightmares. Arclight Boston will give you nightmares if you choose to waste your money there.
The statement that ArcLight Cinemas Boston is the “Worst Movie Theater in Boston” is an understatement. Especially considering that the AMC South Bay and AMC Boston Common are really bad.
How bad is Arclight Cinemas Boston doing? So bad that they are trying (but failing) to get people to go there for FREE. While this promotion might seem legitimate, the actual website that it directs you to claims all of the tickets for each show are sold out. Well, when you put your free movies in an auditorium that holds less than 65 people, and allow each person to get four free tickets, of course you will get people to hoard them. The fact is, most who have claimed their free tickets won’t show up and the auditoriums will remain empty. Moreover, even the few people who do go for free will be so unimpressed they will never go back as paying customers.