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The 6 Best North American Movie Theater Chains

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Retail landlords are increasingly turning to experiential retail tenants like movie theaters to drive traffic, but not all movie theaters are created equal.

The movie theaters of 2018 have amenities like reclining chairs, on-demand meals and cocktail bars, but how much of that really matters to customers? Market Force Information polled nearly 13,000 North American consumers about their moviegoing habits. From competitive ticket prices and comfortable seating to gourmet food options, patron responses determined the rankings.

Here are the top six chains based on those responses:

The 6 Best North American Movie Theater Chains

1. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

This Austin, Texas-based theater chain is a moviegoer favorite thanks to its strictly enforced rules. When this company says no talking or texting, they mean it. First-time offenders get a warning, and if they continue, they are kicked out of the theater. Latecomers aren’t allowed into the theater. Customers also ranked the company highly for its in-seat food and beverage service. 

2. Harkins Theatres

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Harkins Theatres is a southwestern U.S. chain that scored high in customer loyalty and concessions. The chain also scored the highest in the survey for its convenient locations and restroom conditions. Harkins scored second only to Alamo for the courtesy of its ticket collectors.

The 6 Best North American Movie Theater Chains
A Harkins Theatres location in Oklahoma City

3. Marcus Theatres

The 69-theater Marcus Theatres chain is largely focused on the Midwest and ranked third in the survey. The company was ranked first for its comfortable seating. Marcus Theatres has the highest loyalty program participation by those in the survey, with 78% of its customers participating in the company’s Magical Movie Rewards program and 63% exclusively visiting Marcus Theatres when going to the movies.  

4. Landmark Theatres

Landmark Theatres took the top spot for movie selection as well as scoring high for the company’s ability to quickly resolve any customer service issues. The 52-theater Los Angeles-based chain is known for showcasing foreign and independent films. Operating in 27 markets, Landmark ranked second only to Alamo in terms of box office courtesy and staff helpfulness.

5. Cinemark

The 6 Best North American Movie Theater Chains
An Egyptian-themed Cinemark location in Hanover, Md.

Cinemark Theatres operates theaters in 41 states and got high scores from customers for types of seating. The chain also has a sizeable international presence with 200 theaters across 15 Latin American countries. The large chain ranked fourth for convenient locations, but it lagged with a ninth-place spot in terms of respondents saying they had a prior good experience at a Cinemark location.

6. Studio Movie Grill

Studio Movie Grill may have ranked sixth overall, but this Texas-based chain took the top rank for movie time selection. The company’s theaters feature leather recliners, full-service bars and service buttons at every seat to allow in-theater table service. Customers who prioritize food and beverage options during their moviegoing experience ranked the chain high. Studio Movie Grill ranked third for food variety and beverage value while placing second for food value.