Cinema Showdown: AMC Vs. Regal

The summer movie season has officially kicked off. After you’re done watching trailers at home, you’ll want to find the best movie theater to watch the movies you want to watch. Here’s how the two biggest movie theater chains (and two of your most obvious picks) compare Regal and AMC.


There are dozens of theater chains in the US alone, but Regal and AMC are by far the largest. For years, Regal has been the industry leader with 7,295 screens in 565 theaters, more than any other company. While AMC is in second place, their proposed acquisition of Carmike Cinemas (which is expected to close by the end of this year ) will give it 8,380 screens in 653 locations, pushing it up to the # 1 spot. This puts them both in fierce competition with each other, and neither of them backs down.

The two cinema chains are largely comparable. They each began the transition to high-tech 4K displays in most of their cinemas in late August. For the most part, the average moviegoer won’t notice a difference in picture quality unless you look for actual IMAX screens .

Where the two really differ from each other is in the theatrical experience. Over the past decade or so, it has become easier to build your own home theater system that is good enough. Microwave a popcorn bag, insert a Blu-ray, and you don’t even have to leave the house for a movie night. To combat this trend, AMC and Regal have begun tweaking their cinemas to be better than yours. Quite frankly, it made the theater world so much better.

AMC wins at dining, but both have nice new amenities

To compete with your comfortable sofa, AMC has begun experimenting with theatrical performances that are different from the usual “sitting in a tiny chair and staring at the screen.” For example, Dine-In theaters are currently located at 19 AMC locations across the country. These theaters have full-menu restaurants where waiters bring food directly to you. This format is familiar to anyone who has ever heard of Alamo Drafthouse , another theatrical boutique chain that prides itself on going beyond the usual cinema trip. In my experience, it is sometimes distracting, but it is becoming an increasingly popular way to decorate your theater.

AMC has also equipped many of its establishments with a full-service bar and lounge area called “MacGuffins .” 132 of the current 346 AMC locations in the US have streak, which means that AMC has almost as much MacGuffin as there is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe . Here adults can have a drink and relax before or after the movie. While the Regals did a bit of tinkering withthe restaurant and bar models , the company largely avoided these alternative amenities.

In more traditional areas, Regal and AMC are also improving their game. Both companies offer reclining seats and reserved seats in specific locations. AMC is ahead of Regal in this area too, with 111 seats versusRegal ‘s85 and reserved seats in 147 AMC cinemas versus 131 Regal cinemas, according to Fandango . Knowing that you are guaranteed a good seat and a comfortable chair waiting for you will be able to make up for the shock of rising ticket prices .

If armchairs and reserved seats are important to you (professional advice: they should. They are cool ), then the competition doesn’t matter as much as your proximity to a supported seat. Follow the links above to find out which cinemas nearby have these features. However, if you would like to try out for dinner at the theater, or would like a drink before entering the theater, AMC will help you.

AMC Awards are for regular moviegoers, Regal Awards are for casual fans

AMC ‘s bounty program is called Stubs and costs $ 12 a year to use. In return for every $ 100 you spend, you get $ 10 back. You can also get a free popcorn and soda boost and all online ticket fees through the AMC website are waived. If you don’t go to the theater often, you may find it difficult to recoup even the minimal cost of $ 12 a year. Pro tip: If you pay for your friends’ tickets in advance and let them refund you later, reaching $ 100 each year will be much easier. For avid moviegoers or families, this can pay off quickly. Stubs also gives you a virtual library of all your ticket stubs. It doesn’t have any monetary value to you, but it’s nice to look at.

Regal’s Rewards Program is called the Regal Crown Club . Unlike the AMC program, it costs nothing to join, which is a plus. However, the benefits are not that good. It uses a points system that allows you to earn rewards over time. For every dollar spent, you earn 100 points. You can also earn bonus points if you go to the theater more than six times a year. You can then spend those points on things like concessions or movie tickets. For the record, a ticket to a 2D movie costs 15,000 points, which is about $ 150. You can shave that off if you frequent the theater and don’t spend a lot every time, but that’s far from the guaranteed $ 10 you get for every $ 100 that AMC has to offer. More importantly, AMC allows you to spend your rewards the way you want, instead of forcing you to save up money for purchases with “points”.

On the one hand, the AMC program offers more attractive rewards, but Regal costs nothing, so there is no reason not to subscribe. If you live near a decent AMC movie theater and you (or the people you go to the movies with) are planning to spend a decent amount of money, AMC stubs are worth it. Regal is worth it no matter what, but it can take a while to earn any meaningful rewards.

Verdict: AMC is more groundbreaking, but Regal is catching up fast

Overall, AMC offers a slightly better experience for the avid moviegoer. The company has more reclining seats and reserved seats, a better reward program, and more innovative features like Dine-In theaters and MacGuffin bars. If you live near one of the trendy AMC theaters and enjoy spending time in the movies, you should probably visit.

While the Regal may lag a bit, it isn’t by much. The company has almost as many refurbished cinemas as AMC, and their reward program is not worth a dime. If you don’t go to the movies that often or are not interested in crazy things like restaurants in cinemas, Regal is for you.

Of course, it also depends on what’s available where you live. There are a dozen AMC and Regal cinemas within 10 miles in my area, but your area may be different. Both companies strive to improve the overall theater experience, so check out all the theaters in your area and find the features that appeal to you the most. Then sit in a chair, relax and enjoy the show.


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