Imagine you go to see Disney’s new live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast and while the show is playing there are kids running around and climbing on a jungle gym and going down large slides all around you. That’s what could be the experience at some “Cinepolis Junior” theaters in California trying to appeal more to children, and with them whole families.
The Los Angeles Times has a report on the gimmick, which technically might not allow for use of their in-auditorium playgrounds during the movie, but supposedly that also isn’t being ruled out completely. The idea is instead that for a few dollars extra per ticket, families will want to arrive early and let the kids tire themsleves out a bit on the structures before sitting down for the show.
That actually doesn’t sound much different from the playgrounds we used to play on at the drive-in before the sun went down and the movie began. Or too far off from playing video games in the lobby right until showtime. Except that it’s in the auditorium right next to the seats and brightly colored, possibly distracting you and tempting the kids, especially if there are any slow moments on screen.
Theater owners will try anything, of course. Before it was an attempt to get more adults in theaters by offering dinner, drinks and child-free screenings. Now they’re back to trying to woo the kids and families more, probably because 3D is starting to fade as a guaranteed preferred amenity these days. And when even the latest Ice Age sequel can bomb, that market can seem desperate.
Included in the Cinepolis Junior play areas are two slides, stationary pogo sticks, climbable structures, mini merry-go-rounds, ball pits, hanging foam-filled bags and more. There will also be more kid-friendly snack choices like Cheetos, and obviously these specific auditoriums will show only kid and family friendly releases.
How about this, though: let the kids play on a playground during the movie and have the house lights on and everything, but also hire trained caretakers to supervise so the parents not only don’t have to suffer through that headache but also can avoid whatever annoying colorful garbage the kids are demanding to see in the first place and see Logan or Get Out instead.
Or we can just take the kids to a park playground for free and then go home right after and watch a movie in our living room.