Cinemark to replace AMC at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk

August 17, 2018, 9:27 AM · The Universal Orlando Resort announced this morning that theater chain Cinemark will replace AMC as the brand on its 20-screen theater complex in the resort's CityWalk shopping district.

The movie theaters will close on September 14 to swap the branding on the theaters, which will reopen as Universal Cinemark at CityWalk on September 15. Then Universal and Cinemark will begin renovating the 20 theaters to all-recliner seating.

One of the theaters will become a Cinemark XD auditorium, with a wall-to-wall screen and advanced projection and sound systems in addition to the chain's "Luxury Lounger" seating.

AMC is not known as a premier theater brand when compared with more upscale competitors such as Alamo Drafthouse and Arclight Cinemas. AMC can provide a superior theater experience, as it did with its recently renovated theaters at Universal Studios Hollywood's CityWalk, which feature all-recliner seating, upgraded Christie projectors, Dolby Atmos sound, and a "Director's Lounge" upstairs bar. But the Orlando theaters remained mired in early-2000s style and technology. I saw Avengers: Infinity War there last spring on my first visit to the theaters in years and was surprised by the mediocrity of the experience. Having seen what Universal did with the Hollywood theaters, I figured that a major refurbishment in Orlando must be imminent.

And it was. No word yet on how long the refurbishments will take to complete.

The switch from AMC to Cinemark also affects Universal guests who have subscribed to AMC's A-List subscription service, which will not be accepted at the theaters after the 13th, obviously. Cinemark has its own subscription discount service, Cinemark Movie Club, which will be accepted there, instead.

Replies (7)

August 17, 2018 at 10:21 AM

The AMCs in my area has the upgraded recliners. Was AMC holding out because they knew they are on the way out?

August 17, 2018 at 11:16 AM

Yes, my AMC can have nice spots of seats and meals in the theater. But they're also quite small so impossible to be able to just go up and buy a ticket, you need to get it a day or two in advance.

Meanwhile, my local Cinemark has much larger theaters and is far cheaper (less than five bucks for a matinee) so I use that far more than I do AMC. So no surprise a shift coming.

August 17, 2018 at 5:27 PM

There are two huge new AMC complexes in Boston that’s are very nice. THe truth is that all the major chainsaw have great locations that are high end. The reality of being in a retail location Like Disney or Universal means you are paying them to be there since rent would be so high. In the end, it’s considered marketing not a profitable location. Same with Starbucks’s deal at Disney.

August 17, 2018 at 6:24 PM

This theatre was originally designed as a Ceneplex Odeon, but opened as a Loews Cineplex theatre. The interior decor did not match the Loews aesthetic, but it was never changed. When AMC merged with Loews Ceneplex, they acquired the Universal theatre. The building remained the same until around 2010. All the seats were changed out, and an IMAX theatre added. Not long after, they went all digital. AMC tended to treat the theatre as the “red headed step child” only doing minor upgrades and general upkeep. It wasn’t until a few years ago they repainted the interior to make it better match the AMC aesthetic. Hopefully Cinemark will give this theatre the makeover it deserves.

August 17, 2018 at 7:06 PM

With all the new Universal Hotels , this makes sense to have a state of the art cinema on site. It never really attracted locals due to the location. Now with hundreds of rooms being added I think it will be a success.

August 17, 2018 at 11:01 PM

AMC can be upscale...my loca one has an AMC Dolby theater and all but one theater (IMAX) has reclining seats, plus a bar...IMAX wouldn’t allow them to replace the loveseats with recliners (would reduce the # of seats in the theater)...plus AMC Disney Springs 24 have Dine-In Theaters. This is just Universal seeing which chain would contribute more towards renovating and reducing their costs in this whole deal!!! AMC A-List is a HELL of a better program than Cinemarks....bye-bye Citywalk, HELLO Disney Springs!!!

August 18, 2018 at 2:49 PM

The AMC at Universal Hollywood is now one of the nicest theaters in the country, and its operated by AMC. My guess is Universal just didn’t want to have the same theater brand as Disney Springs, and so they got a different one. Its still weird they now have do different theater chains, but it happens. Another reason may have been a dispute with AMC and parking. Disney Springs is the clear winner for people that just want to see a movie. Citywalk in Orlando is more geared to people already at Universal Orlando who are spending most of their time at the parks, so I doubt it will be a very popular theater no matter who operates it.

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