After many months of anticipation, iPic Theaters finally opened its first Florida location in Mizner Park (301 Plaza Real) this past spring, anchoring the plaza. And – no surprise here – it’s sensational.
Since its initial press conference in February, the buzz on this locally based (but nationally spread) movie theater chain has been astronomically high. CEO Hamid Hashemi – profiled in the current issue of Boca Raton– is a lofty pitchman for his company, and it turns out he has every reason to be. It’s too early to say definitively that iPic will change the way audiences go to the movies, but it will almost certainly pull a few competing cinema chains in its upscale direction.
On my first visit to the building, the on-site restaurant Tanzy was still in its soft opening (It’s now one of the most popular destinations in Mizner). A representative from the theater escorted my wife and I upstairs, where the eight screens projected the blockbusters of the week alongside glittering and expensive ambiance – a total renovation from the Sunrise Cinemas chain that formerly inhabited the space. Paintings from the nearby Addison Gallery hung on the corridor between theaters, and lighting bounced off the elegant waves of chainmail that suspended from the ceiling. An impressive modern-art chandelier illuminated the chic snack bar/kitchen, where flames tickled each other in the wood-burning oven.
The lobby experience reminded me of a posh hotel lounge, and the comfort continued into the capacious theater. Most of the seats in each compact auditorium are the “Premium Plus” variety, which are pricier than most of iPic’s competition but aresoworth it. The orange leather seats recline, and each one comes equipped with a pillow, blanket and small table attachment. Before and during the picture, patrons can order gourmet food options (the roasted Portobello sliders are fabulous) and drinks concocted by a Chicago mixologist. Simply press the service button on your table, and within a minute, your server will materialize by your chair. The waiters call themselves ninjas, and for good reason – they flit across the theater silently, their black attire blending into the darkness.
The film I saw that afternoon was good, but the movies are almost beside the point. (I have an issue with digital projection, which may never usurp 35mm projection in my mind, but iPic’s digital images are state-of-the-art; the difference between the two formats will go unnoticed by everyone except the purists). The pampering experience is what will drive moviegoers to iPic.
Go once and it’ll be enough to make you an addict.