Opening Day at Landmark Theatres Flagship Greenwood Village

Three Strikes from Opening Day at Landmark Theatres Flagship Greenwood Village

22 December 2007 – Greenwood Village, CO: Yesterday, I decided to support the grand opening of the new flagship concept Landmark Theatres Greenwood Village theatre in Greenwood Village, CO with a plan to see Charlie Wilson's War, P.S. I Love You, and Sweeney Todd, enjoy the new ambiance, and check out this new theatre concept. As I have blogged extensively with praise for the Landmark Theatre chain, I had high expectations for this opening and expected it to be filled with great kudos. Instead, things got off to a very rocky start and never got much better.

First of all, the theatre's website suggests,…

Light Rail Directions To The Landmark Theatre Greenwood Village
1. Take the E, F, or G train to the Orchard Station (5652 Greenwood Plaza)
2. Station ramp exits into the Bearden's Bar & Grill Parking lot
3. Walk north (right) out of parking lot onto Greenwood Plaza Blvd.
4. Follow the curve of the road keeping to the right until you pass the high rise condos (approx 3 blocks)
5. Take the first left and you will see the theatre straight ahead

Approximate Distance: 4 blocks
Approximate Walk Time: 7 minutes

(view source as of 22 December 2007 – they may eventually change this to reflect reality)

… an approximate walking time of 7 minutes from the Light Rail station to the theatre. Speed walking, maybe. And, for about a third of the way, there's no sidewalk, really—not their fault, it's Greenwood Village's fault and the car-centered mentality of the region. Plus, it was snowing pretty heavily. Just know that most Coloradoans would not consider it really walking-distance from the station to the theatre.

So, I arrived a bit later than expected, and the poorly trained, overly authoritative box-office clerk didn't warm me up to the place. Our conversation went roughly like this…

Me: "Can I have a ticket to Charlie Wilson's War?"
Him: "You sure can!"
Me: (waiting and waiting as he pushes a lot of squares on his giant screen)
Me: (wondering what's the deal)
Him: (wildly pushing buttons) "It won't let me select a ticket for you. I'll have to get help."
Me: "Ok."
Him: (returning with another dude) "I cannot get it to show me the time to get the ticket."
Dude: "You have to push, 'Show All Times'."
Him: "Oh, right, ok." (wildly pushes more buttons, frowns) "It's still not working."
Dude: (intervenes, pushes the buttons, and gets the ticket) "Here you go."
Him: "Wow. Good."
Me: "I suppose you cannot use the Landmark Theatre strip tickets here, right."
Him: (as if suddenly channeling Darth Vader)"No."
Me: "Yeah, it actually says that on the strip. But, I didn't notice it until now."
Him: (nothing)
Me: "Here's my credit card."
Him: (swipes card, prints ticket, utters some gibberish about the location of the theatre, and hands it to me)
Me: "You don't need to tear the ticket?" (I ask because he's already demonstrated no comprehension of his job and the box office agent tears the ticket at every other Landmark Theatre in Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis.)
Him: (suddenly channeling the Cheshire Cat) "I have a ticket taker to do that!"

So, I'd rate that as a pretty lousy introduction and welcome to our brand new theatre on its opening day, wouldn't you? STRIKE ONE

Now, I had read in the paper all about how the new concept at this particular Landmark Theatre is that popcorn and drinks are included in the price of the ticket. You can re-read the conversation above. He makes no mention of it. If I hadn't known, I'd probably have wondered why it cost $9 to see a matinee. So, I walked up to the drink machine and fixed myself a delicious Arnold Palmer and a smallish bag of popcorn, a friendly person directed me to the butter topping, and then I tried to figure out where to go for my movie since I hadn't understood the gibberish of Mr. Darth Vader Cat. Signage might be fine, but I was harried not wanting to miss the starting of the film, and budgeting time incorrectly to accommodate the weather and the distance from the light rail station, so I had to ask for help. I was directed to theatre 5. When I got in there, the place was pretty packed. Which I thought was great. It was, after all, early in the day, on a Friday, in bad weather, at a new theatre. So, I took a front zone seat and craned my neck to see the film. I'm sort of used to this. I sit wherever and it really doesn't effect my ability to review a film much, at least, I don't think it does. After a few minutes, though, I realized I had not taken off my coat, and I was still freezing. I'm Scandinavian by heritage and if I'm cold in a movie theatre I really feel for the people who moved in to Colorado from Palm Springs. Moreover, I was wearing a baseball cap (part of my incognito get-up), and so I was losing less heat through my head. When my small drink and my small popcorn ran out, I was pretty bummed. It's unlimited refills as part of this concept, and who wants to leave the middle of a great movie to refill? No me. Well, technically, I cannot even because what if while I was gone, the most important line of the film was spoken? That would be bad. So, I sat there freezing to death and starving for more popcorn and Arnold Palmers for which I'd technically already paid. STRIKE TWO

As I was watching the credits roll, I popped out my cell phone and surfed up the page of movie times to find out how much time I'd have between films. I figured it would give me time to explore and get more of a sense of the theatre design—my whirlwind entrance had not afforded me much time to explore. A couple of ushers were kind of looming about giving me sort of a look, and when I got just outside the door, I suddenly found myself being chastised:

Male Usher: "Sir, we'd like to ask you to refrain from using your cell phone during the movie."
Me: (blank stare)
Male Usher: "We had complaints that someone in the front was using their cell phone during the movie."
Me: (even more blank stare)
Female Usher: "Were you using your cell phone?"
Me: (cell phone sill out and in hand)
Male Usher: "If you were using your phone."
Me: (waiting to hear some acknowledgement that it might not have been me)"Um, no. I wasn't. I never do that. I got it out to check the movie times for the next showing here while the credits were rolling, but I don't think that's a violation of any huge laws of etiquette is it?"
Male Usher: "Oh, no, we just had a report about someone."
Me: "Well, it wasn't I. As I said, I don't do that. I will say, however, that that theatre was freezing."
Female Usher: "Oh we know, we didn't have the heat on. This is opening day, and there are bound to be some problems."
Me: (Thinking to myself, "That's not a problem, that's an outrage. Too bad the moron who reported the cell phone user didn't also bother to ask to have the heat turned on.)

In fact, I have written about the issue of cell phones twice or more in my blog. And, I have no qualms going over and asking a person to cut it out when I see it despite the additional disruption. But there were a couple of things about this that bothered me. First, the person who observed the behavior, told an usher rather and the ushers apparently waited until after the movie was over to do anything about it. Obviously, since I hadn't had my phone out until the credits were rolling, the ushers could not have observed me with my phone out during the film. So, because I had it out later they assumed (and we all know what happens when one assumes things) that the miscreant was I. Poor assumption. Second, as citizen of the USA, I don't like to be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Third, we are entitled to face our accuser directly. Finally, everyone who has ever worked in a retail environment knows the dangers of public accusations. This is the kind of thing you ask a person if they mind speaking with you about out of ear-shot of other customers or run the risk of creating ill feelings and scenes which don't usually turn out well. This, in fact, turned out to be a costly misstep for the theatre as it was STRIKE THREE. Not only did I not stay to see two more films as planned (loss of $21), I didn't stay to check out the ambiance or anything else about the theatre. The long walk back to the light rail station also afforded me ample time to plan out this blog post review of opening day at the Landmark Theatre Greenwood Village.

Other Points:

The Popcorn / Drinks Included Concept:
• They've got to put medium-sized bags and cups out too. I can understand not putting out large and tubs, etc. as people's eyes are always bigger than their stomachs. But the smalls are too small.
• The price is good. $6 for a movie and $3 for unlimited drinks and popcorn for a matinee—that's hard to beat in the Denver area.
• The drink selection including the necessary ice tea and lemonade used to make an Arnold Palmer is great.
• The mechanical delivery system may be breaking the popcorn up into small pieces inadvertently, or it could just be delivering the smaller pieces out the bottom with the larger pieces float on top. Either way, I've never had worse luck with a bag of popcorn and the number of unpops and tiny pieces of popcorn making it easier to eat with a spoon.
• If the butter is real, as is the case throughout most of the chain, it didn't taste like it here. This deserves a second taste.
• It's not clear if you stay for a second or third film if you have to pay again for more popcorn and drinks. I would have been able to find this out had I stayed as planned. Hopefully, they are logical and you don't have to pay again for all you can eat food.

The Film Selection:
• Juno was really the only traditional independent film playing. I understand the concept of wanting to show some big films too like Charlie Wilson's War, but this theatre has six screens, was only showing 5 films, and only 1 independent: Juno vs. Charlie Wilson's War, Atonement, Sweeney Todd, and P.S. I Love You.
• For a grand opening and a new concept, one would have thought the Landmark Theatre chain would have planned some special films to be playing here and nowhere else. They could have brought in some independent films that rarely make it to the interior USA.

The Seating, Lobby, and Restrooms:
• Very, very comfy.
• Real stadium seating at a Landmark Theatre!
• The mensroom floor was covered in water. I didn't have a chance to check out why. The restroom was not that spectacular, but compared to the one in their other theatres, it was magnificent.

The Ambiance of the Theatre:
• gorgeous, upscale, nightclub-esque atmosphere—I wish I could have stayed to enjoy more of it and check out more of what's going on in the lobby—maybe next time.

My loyalty to the chain won't be damaged beyond repair by the experience as a whole. It was the first day. There are bound to be problems, or so I was told. I was also told to try out the special seating for $2 where the ushers bring you food and you get priority seating. Maybe, when my memory of this less than delightful experience fades, I'll try it out. It's hard to imagine that special seating and food delivery is worth $2 more bringing the cost of the evening experience to $14, but we'll see. Hopefully, they'll get their act together before too long, or they're not likely to find themselves being considered the flag ship for long.

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