Thursday, October 25, 2007

Movie houses' latest adult attraction: No kids

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A growing number of movie theaters, trying to woo more adults, are banning youngsters who aren't with their parents or excluding them from late-night showings.

Kerasotes Theatres is testing "adult-friendly" movies at 13 of its 95 locations, spokeswoman Clair Malo says.

Two theaters in suburban Chicago require patrons 17 and younger to attend a short "code of conduct" class on decorum before they can see movies at 8:30 p.m. or later without parents.

Theaters are searching for ways "to get people who don't go to the movies as often to go more," says Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners. "Luxury amenities … and adults-only screenings help."

Regina Schultz, 59, chose a 9:20 p.m. showing of Elizabeth: The Golden Age here last weekend because of the adults-only policy. On Fridays and Saturdays, children younger than 7 aren't allowed at movies that begin at 9 p.m. or later. Youngsters ages 7 to 16 are admitted only with a parent.

"Kids are very irritating" and have ruined her experience of watching many movies, says Schultz, a nurse. "Movies should not be a place to go and congregate and be noisy."

Theaters are making other changes to attract adults:

•Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield, Wis., is among many theaters expanding entertainment and food options. It sells alcohol, and waiters serve entrees such as chicken marsala in an adults-only auditorium. There's a babysitting service, Wi-Fi Internet access and weekend performances by comics.

"We want to create an entertainment destination and reach people who might not otherwise come to a movie theater," says Marcus Theatres spokesman Carlo Petrick. The theater also is popular for business meetings, he says.

•New York's Metropolitan Opera last year beamed six live performances in high definition to 113 movie theaters. The first year was such a success that eight performances will be shown in more than 300 theaters beginning Dec. 15, opera spokeswoman Sommer Hixson says. "It is a phenomenon and rather unexpected," she says. "People clap after the arias. They respond as if they were there."

•Regal Entertainment Group, the USA's largest chain with 529 locations, in July opened its first Cinebarre in Asheville, N.C. It serves food, beer and wine in the auditoriums, says Regal spokesman Dick Westerling. More than 80 other Regal theaters target adults by featuring independent and alternative films and serving gourmet coffee and chocolates.

Except for ratings restrictions, Regal theaters don't limit moviegoers by age, Westerling says. "We don't want to restrict any age group," he says.

Greg Anderson, 35, brought daughter Anika, 11, to a 9:30 p.m. showing of Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? here. He thinks the policy is a good idea because teenagers "can be disrespectful and interfere with your enjoying the movie." His daughter disagrees.

Scott Flynn, 36, a banker, came to an adult-friendly showing here. "I'm all for it," he says.