The New and Improved Embarcadero Multiplex

This fall, Landmark shut down, refurbished, and reopened their Embarcadero Center Cinema multiplex, which has become their San Francisco flagship. This morning, I visited the Embarcadero for a press screening. It was the first time since the makeover.

Here’s my report:

If you turn right after entering the theater, you’ll see the concession stand where it’s always been. It’s bigger, and the line probably moves faster on a Saturday night.

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But if you turn left, you’ll see something really new: a bar. Alas, when I arrived at 10:00 on a Thursday morning, it was closed.

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I liked the pattern on the rug, but I honestly can’t tell you if it was new. [12/6: I’ve been informed that the rug is indeed new.]image

The seats are new, and comfortable, but in the larger auditoriums they’re not really that exceptional.

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But the seats are exceptional if your movie is playing in one of the four “Screening Lounges”–as was the case with the press screening. These small theaters come equipped with soft, wide, faux-leather recliners. Press a button on the thick armchair, and the leg rest rises while the back comes down. These are easily the most comfortable movie theater seats I’d ever experienced.

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But the bugs aren’t completely worked out. I got a tea at the concession stand. And when I put it into the cup holder, it damn near disappeared. The cup holder is simply too deep for an 8oz paper cup.

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The screen was huge, and high, with a 1.85×1 aspect ratio. Since the film I was there to see (John Sayles’ Go for Sisters–I’ll tell you about it later) was also 1.85, I expected it to fill the screen. But it didn’t. There was visible blank screen on both sides and on the bottom.

I asked about that after the movie. An employee explained that the screen was too large for the auditorium, so they couldn’t use all of it. And the auditorium has no masking.

The image was still quite large, so I can’t really complain too much about the unfilled screen. But Landmark advertises the Embarcadero as a premium theater. Tickets cost $12.50 and come with reserved seating. The lack of masking really makes the theater look cheap.

Like I said, there are still bugs in the system.