Universal Studios Hollywood is going through a massive overhaul right now and in 2017, the shift is turning from the theme park to CityWalk. The past year has seen some great new additions such as Ludo Bird, Dongpo Kitchen, both top notch options in their own ways. But, the tent-pole destination at CityWalk has always been the movie theater and up until recently had been aging.
With the completion and success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Creative was given the task of not only refreshing the Universal Cinema, but making it a world class venue to see a movie, considering that many of them were filmed on the same property.
We recently had the chance to tour the entire theater with the Senior Designer of the project, Fernando Pa as he shared his insight as well as the overall new direction they wanted to take the theater.
The tour started naturally at the front entrance. The box office had been moved indoors, and no longer has the glass barrier so common these days. This was designed to give movie goers a more intimate, concierge feeling once they step foot inside.
The entrance into each theater consists of an LED archway, reminiscent of ones seen at movie premiere.
Inside each theater is where you’ll find all of the really nice bells and whistles. The goal here was to make you feel like a director screening a movie with ultimate comfort. Every theater (excluding iMAX) now has reclining all leather seats as well as multi-tiered layouts allowing for a great view no matter where you are seated. Each theater was also upgraded with RGB Laser Projection and Atmos surround sound.
Fernando referred to each theater as a “black box”. When seeing a film here, there are no light leaks or outside distractions and the theater is completely pitch black. It’s designed specifically to make a film feel as immersive as possible.
But that’s not where the changes end. The consession stand is no longer a consession stand. Gone are the days of waiting in long lines. The new Market Place is designed in a way that allows you the movie goer to simply walk up to the window/desk of what you want, grab it, and pay in a different area.
The rest of the theater has a very lounge like feeling. It very much feels like something you’d find on the backlot with actual screen-used movie props on display (this is a movie studio after all). The whole venue feels like someplace you’d not only want to watch a movie, then leave – but a place to hang out and talk about movies.
But the best area is upstairs, at the Director’s Lounge. This is a brand new full service bar for those who like to pre-game (or post-game) a few drinks when seeing a movie. Eagle eyed visitors will notice a similar (but not identical) globe in the background. More very subtle Universal references found in the theater.
If you’re a movie fan you HAVE to check out this theater. The feeling of quality is completely unmatched at any other theater and one could literally melt in the new seats they’re that comfortable! The new Universal Cinema is currently open to guests! This is the first of many new additions coming to CityWalk this year. Very soon, Margaritaville and VooDoo Doughnuts will be opening (no dates yet for either), with the possibility of more goodies later on!