Mainstreet the best theater around

amc mainstreet

A collaboration of Helix Architecture + Design, AMC and Cordish Company turned Kansas City’s historic Mainstreet Theatre, in the city’s Power and Light Entertainment District,  into one of the country’s most enjoyable movie watching experiences.

Via: The Kansas City Star

With the new Mainstreet theater, Kansas City now has one of the best movie theaters in the country.

Maybe in the world.

In every category in which you might measure the experience — sound, projection, comfort, ambience — AMC’s six-screen Mainstreet is as good as it gets.

In its first two weeks, the all-digital venue at 14th and Main has been busy with crowds of curious moviegoers.

As an AMC spokesman puts it, the theater has seen a “continuous flow of guests since opening day … guests have reacted very favorably to not only the historical building’s transformation, but also the high-tech, out-of-home entertainment experience at this incredible theater.”

But enough corporate-speak. Friends and co-workers who saw the new “Star Trek” movie there report that the big auditorium was packed for every screening. They raved about the presentation, even the chairs that vibrate to low-frequency sounds.

Fred Andrews, whose Kansas City FilmFest in late April put the new theater through its maiden voyage, had nothing but good things to say.

“It was an easygoing, comfortable environment,” Andrews said. “People were wowed … and not just festival goers. Some of the filmmakers said it was the best projection they’d ever seen of their work.

“And I had several people from L.A. tell me there’s nothing in that city even close to this.”

AMC — which manages the Mainstreet on behalf of the Cordish Co., operators of the surrounding Power & Light District — probably wouldn’t put it this way, but I think the theater is aimed at movie snobs.

It has been designed to attract an audience that wants to see movies in luxury (red leather chairs, incredible legroom, footrails running along the base of every row) and with a minimum of distractions.

Moreover, the Mainstreet is a masterpiece of interior design, particularly when you consider that the architects had to retrofit a 90-year-old building to pull it off.

What passes for “good taste” in most movie theater design is actually lack of taste. Your typical theater interior is utilitarian and blandly inoffensive.

But the Mainstreet has attitude coming out the wazoo. That its designers aimed it at a smart, savvy crowd is evident everywhere — from the movie quotes embedded in the terrazzo floor to the inviting bar in the lobby to the giant abstract sculpture hanging in the rotunda that is meant to evoke a popped kernel of corn.

Most modern movie theaters are aimed at 17-year-olds, but the Mainstreet has appeal for customers old enough and well-versed enough in cinema history to recognize what movies those quotes came from and to identify the stars of yesteryear whose faces peer out from banners in the lobby and from the stall doors in the restrooms.

Many are curious about whether the Mainstreet will continue to flourish after the initial excitement wears off.

But it’s important to recognize that the theater isn’t a stand-alone enterprise that succeeds or fails all by its lonesome. It’s part of a much bigger idea.

It brings to the Power & Light District yet another attraction to go along with the restaurants and bars, the concerts and athletic events at the Sprint Center, the performances at the Rep’s Copaken Theatre in the H&R Block building.

Undoubtedly for some the Mainstreet will become their local movie house. For others it will become a destination for a special occasion — a birthday or anniversary — that justifies the drive into the city and hours spent eating, drinking and being entertained.

While it generally will play mainstream movies, the Mainstreet is at heart a boutique theater, aimed at those willing to pay a little more for a near-perfect experience.

I think there are a lot of us out there.