CMX Cinemas at Old Orchard hosting programming, other offerings as part of movie-going experience
The Friday night standby of dinner-and-a-movie just scored a major upgrade. CMX Cinemas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cinemex out of Mexico City, Mex, has taken over the Regal Theaters at the Westfield Old Orchard mall in Skokie to bring their upscale cinematic experience to Chicago’s northern suburbs.
Theaters have come a long way since the 1950s when servers on roller skates zoomed up to 17-foot-long convertibles and hung trays of burgers and milkshakes off the sides, leaving movie-goers to maneuver refreshments around hula hoop-sized steering wheels.
Fast forward to 2019 and the meals-on-wheels concept has been turned on its ear, or rather, its back and is now reclining comfortably in oversized leather loungers equipped with LED lighting, USB outlets, storage compartments and, most importantly, the invaluable service staff call button available to depress discretely for any additional requests for sustenance.
The eighth largest movie theater chain in the United States, Cinemex is also one of the top ten cinema conglomerates worldwide with 332 sites, 2,861 screens and 13,000 employees. Since 1995, Cinemex has been curating guest experiences by offering both family-friendly and over-21 venues, 3D and 4D viewing options, and by specializing in creating events specific to the communities in which each theater is located.
In the Fall, CMX offered North Shore moviegoers a classic movie series. Cineclassics showcased fan favorites from “Beetlejuice” on Halloween to “It’s A Wonderful Life” for Christmas. And just as the Oscar nominations were announced, CMX Cinemas hosted a free, open-panel discussion with acclaimed Chicago film critics to discuss the 2018 award season predictions.
“CMX´s objective…is to first understand the customers we have in each location, understand their needs and…offer the best experience. We aim to be the preferred entertainment destination and a good neighbor in our communities," said Matt Russell, VP Operations.
At Westfield Old Orchard, CMX offers two unique moviegoing experiences. The family-friendly, all-age CMX Market Cinema near the Borders Bookstore has a food hall-inspired concept. It offers gourmet double and triple-stacked burgers ($10) and shakes ($8), as well as hand-tossed pizzas ($4.25/slice-$23.75/pie); and even Poutine ($12) made with braised short ribs in a red wine demi-glaze, with house-made queso and cheese curds. Of course, there is also hot popcorn but, this too is kicked-up, offering the Chicago mix of cheese and caramel ($6-$10) alongside the traditional buttered ($4-$7).
Across the mall, CMX CinéBistro is the 21-and-over-only location which boasts a full dine-in restaurant and sports bar featuring craft cocktails and an executive-chef-driven scratch kitchen where everything from the salad dressings to sauces is made in-house.
“It’s food that you would find in a white-tablecloth restaurant,” said Isaac Stewart, VP culinary.
This venue offers six multiplexes with stadium-style seating. CMX took out 40 percent of the rows to offer only two to four seats per section, and made walkways and aisles wider, allowing servers easy in-and-out access without disturbing nearby guests.
Loveseats serve as the primary function of CMX’s layout design, featuring chairs that are 30-percent larger and recline like a traditional La-Z-Boy®. An average theater would fit 200 seats in the space CMX houses just 80.
“That way we create an intimate experience in a public setting,” said Russell.
Despite such pampering, prices are tiered as in a traditional theater from $16.00 - $13.50; with Senior/Child/ Student/Matinee and Military tiers running $6.00 - $13.00.
“You can find all these commodities nowadays at your house,” said Monika Sanchez, marketing manager. “You can have Netflix…a La-Z-Boy® but we are looking to be a one-stop destination for entertainment where we can provide a better experience.”
Additional theaters opening in Wheeling and Wrigleyville in late 2019.