Arts, Off Campus, Column

The Height of Luxury

I love going to the movies. The first movie I ever saw in theaters was Barney’s Big Adventure (released April 1998, 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and the second my dad and I left our seats, I looked up at him and said “I wanna go again.” We did not go again, though my 2-year-old self later enjoyed The Rugrats Movie and Mighty Joe Young later that same year. I loved the red velvet seats and the lights that guided you down the stairs. When I was older, I enjoyed movies with my friends by school, around the corner from the Papaya Dog and down the street from Shake Shack. But the best theater was a few blocks from my house—the Ziegfeld, which was built in 1969 but looked like something Old Hollywood left behind, with velvet curtains and pictures of vaudeville actresses. It had one screen and closed down in 2016, which was heartbreaking—another piece of my childhood had fallen away. But finally, there is something just flashy enough to capture my attention again.

On Thursday, the ShowPlace ICON opened in the Boston Seaport. It’s described as a luxury movie theater, and believe me, it is. It’s exactly what someone like me (young, busy, slightly tacky) needed from the film exhibition industry. First of all, there’s parking underneath the building, which frankly is huge. Even I know this and I don’t have my driver’s license. It’s located in a beautiful new building replete with other restaurants—I spotted an Italian place that had multiple flavors of gelato on display. But keep going up the escalators to the third floor, because the ShowPlace ICON is truly one-stop shopping.

The movie theater has its own restaurant, including a full bar, in a lounge area off the entrance. It is just chic enough. You’re still pretty aware you’re in a movie theater, but ya know, a nice one. The decor is similar to the theaters of old—a fire-engine red against black-and-white photos of celebrities. At the tables along the floor-to-ceiling windows, there are nice views of the street below and the other buildings in the neighborhood, replete with nearby twinkling lights.

Food options are a little limited right now—the short menu says that a full one is coming in winter 2018—but the food was good and fairly priced. It boasts specialty cocktails and dessert favorites like skillet cookies, which to me is culinary refinement at its peak. The best thing about all of it is that the food comes in baskets that you can take with you to your seat in the theater. That is truly living your best life. In keeping with other theaters, the ShowPlace ICON also has traditional snacks like popcorn and Milk Duds, as well as other concessions. If you’re stuck in traffic or the T stopped 20 minutes before your movie starts, you can preorder food before you get there and skip the line. A majority of ordering happens on large touch screens so the employees behind the counter can get your things for you faster. It is all a very organized and seamless operation.

Another thing I’d just like to mention is that this movie theater has probably the most high-tech bathrooms I’ve ever seen. The Dyson hand dryers are built into the sink. I sent a picture to my mom. Incredible. There are other technological marvels, like curved movie screens that probably make viewing better, as well as cutting-edge visuals and sound. This, however, paled in comparison to the sink-hand dryers.

The theater also has works in black and white from different artists inspired by movies set in Massachusetts. One features a high heel on a stack of books (Legally Blonde), another a bench in the Common (Good Will Hunting). It is very fancy and a nice way to pass the time before the movie starts.

Seats are determined on a best-available basis, so mine were in the center of a row, three rows up from the screen. The best part about deciding seats that way is that zero people were next to me during the movie. The seats were also staggered in a way that no one in the row in front of me could possibly block my view of the screen. I am 5-foot-1, so this is groundbreaking. The seats also recline and are heated. This place is the real deal.

There are other such places that market a luxury moviegoing experience—the Showcase Superlux at The Street at Chestnut Hill has several of the same trademarks as the ShowPlace ICON. The Seaport theater, however, sells tickets for $19.50 against the Superlux’s $30, which includes popcorn. The Superlux also serves you at your seat during the movie, which stresses me out because I don’t want to interrupt other people who are also paying $30 to see a movie they can rent at home for $2.99 in four months.

If you like going the movies, the ShowPlace ICON can make a whole night of it. You don’t have to sacrifice getting dinner and drinks since you can get them there, and since it’s in the city, it affords you the opportunity to explore all day and then hang out there at night. The theater is also 18 and up after 6 p.m. unless minors are accompanied by a parent, so it’s kind of exclusive. With 10 screens, the ShowPlace ICON is playing several Oscar Best Picture nominees (including Lady Bird, The Shape of Water (which is basically just E.T.), and Darkest Hour), as well as Winchester, the horror movie starring Helen Mirren (2018 is wild). In a time when so much beauty has been stripped away from simple things, a movie theater like this reminds us how nice it can be to just go to the movies.

Featured Image by WS Development

February 12, 2018