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Movies at the Mall

March 24, 2022

Elevated cinema experiences bring families and friends together at Brookfield Properties shopping centers.

As Brookfield Properties continues to redefine the role of our shopping centers, we’re shifting our tenant mix to add experiences that address a post-pandemic desire to spend quality time with friends and family. Increasingly, elevated movie theater experiences are part of that mix.

While multiplex theaters in malls are nothing new — the first one opened in a Missouri shopping mall in the early 1960s — the latest iterations are anything but basic. At CMX CineBistro, which recently opened at Coastland Center in Naples, Florida, and is coming to Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia, later this year, patrons can indulge in steak au poivre, smoked bourbon cocktails, and cheesecake topped with movie candy, all served seat-side.

The movie business might have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to Coastland Center Property Management VP Edward Newkirk, who oversaw the opening of CMX CineBistro in October 2021, consumers haven’t lost their appetite for a movie-going experience. “Despite the challenges of opening a movie theater in the current pandemic environment, the opening has been a true success with an extremely well attended media day and VIP event, rivaling some of the best in their company’s history,” Newkirk said, noting the sold-out opening delivered a 43% increase in mall traffic from the previous weekend.

More than a year after its opening, Coastland Center traffic is still higher than before the activation of the cinema and showings are still selling out. “There is more demand for showings than supply,” said General Manager Jerry McClurg. “Currently, the cinema cannot hire enough people to schedule more showings, but the VP of CMX would like to add three more showings during weekdays and six more per weekend day. He feels like even with the additional showings, they could still sell out.”

While the pandemic brought the theater experience directly into people’s homes, research shows that people who stream more also go to cinemas more. And now that COVID-19 has retreated, there’s pent-up demand for that classic big screen experience once again.

At the Regal Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco, which opened in May 2021, “ScreenX” — one of the theater’s 12 screens — recalls the old Cinerama days with its wide, curving screen. Moviegoers can also enjoy an RPX experience complete with a 60-foot screen and state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos audio. Reclining seats, swiveling tray tables, and cocktails add to the rarified experience.

Patrons at Star Cinema Grill at Baybrook Mall in Houston don’t have to worry about missing a key part of a movie for a snack run. Instead, they can order food with a press of a button from the comfort of their reclining seats. The dine-in theater concept offers first-run film releases, an elevated movie food menu (gourmet pizzas, street tacos, hummus with warm pita bread), and a full-service bar.

In addition to permanent movie theater tenants, Brookfield Properties shopping centers often host pop-up cinema events and outdoor film festivals. For example, Brookfield Place NY has hosted the public component of the Tribeca Film Festival since its inception more than 20 years ago. After a hiatus brought about by the pandemic, last year the Lower Manhattan placemaking destination once again welcomed the public to a socially distanced version of the iconic festival at its outdoor plaza along the Hudson River.

“The Tribeca Film Festival was born out of our mission to bring people together in the aftermath of 9/11,” co-founder Robert De Niro recently told ScreenDaily. “We’re still doing it. And as New York emerges from the shadow of COVID-19, it seems just right to bring people together again in-person for our 20th anniversary festival.”

As Brookfield Properties’ shopping centers continue to evolve into full-fledged family entertainment destinations, bringing people together is our priority. “The sense of community that malls offer is more relevant than in was prior to the pandemic, said Brookfield Properties Anchors and Big Box Leasing & Development EVP Chris Pine. “We believe demand for memorable, human-centric experiences will continue to increase, and look forward to opening another CMX CineBistro theater in our newly reimagined wing at the iconic Tysons Galleria. As we look to revolutionize retail, we’re building marketplaces of the future that offer multigenerational appeal and enrich local communities.”

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