The Riviera Cinema:
Small-Town Theatre Adds Big-City Amenities
The Riviera Cinema’s elegantly lit sign and awning adorned with sepia-toned images of high-class theatres hearkens back to the good old days of theatre-going. People dressed up for an evening show or weekend afternoon matinee and perhaps splurged a bit on treats from the concession stand.
While movies are a bit more casual these days, movie-goers’ quest for advanced theatre amenities − heated recliner seats, large-format screens, online ticketing − has grown. The Riviera Cinema, close to Nine Mile and Shiawassee Road in Farmington Hills, has been known for its luxury seating and bar since opening in 2014 in the former Dipson Theatre. Now it’s making a name for itself by adding three new screens, one of which is an Emax large-format screen with Dolby Atmos sound.
Last spring, The Riviera broke ground in the space between its current building and the new Edge Fitness Club (formerly Kohl’s), with hopes of finishing in October or early November for the onslaught of fall and winter blockbuster movies.
In 2017, The Riviera became a “powered by Emagine” theatre, bringing Emagine’s total Michigan movie theatres up to 11, including one other “powered by” theatre, The Patriot Cinema in Grosse Pointe Farms. Emagine also operates theatres in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin.
“This location feels very homey, very small town,” said Melissa Boudreau, chief marketing officer of Emagine Entertainment. “We like it to feel like this is your neighborhood theatre. But at the same time, we’re adding the latest amenities to bring it up-to-date.”
In addition to Dolby Atmos surround sound in the Emax theatre − which “really does make a difference,” according to Boudreau − the three new auditoriums will include a fourth generation of luxury recliner seats. “They’ve really found ways to make them even more comfortable,” said Boudreau, who noted that the new seats will not be heated initially, but that amenity will be added soon.
The party room and private screening room are typical Emagine amenities that will now be available at The Riviera. The screening room is not just for current movies, but for any media guests would like to show, including personal DVDs and presentations. Available for rent at a rate of $450 for two to three hours, the small auditorium is popular with corporate customers and other guests who want a private experience.
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“It feels very exclusive,” Boudreau said. “You can do whatever you want in there. It’s really fun. It has all the amenities of a home theatre, but you don’t have to clean up.”
The renovations will not only attract more customers − especially movie buffs seeking the latest movie technology for a better experience − but will accommodate those turned away when seats sell out. “It will help us expand our capacity,” said Boudreau. “On certain weekends and with certain shows, we’re selling out.”
Boudreau mentioned a few of the upcoming blockbuster movies Riviera is looking forward to screening. The Riviera’s Emax theatre may not be ready for “Joker,” opening Oct. 4, but possibly for Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” on Oct. 10 and likely for “Terminator: Dark Fate” on Nov. 1. Nov. 15 marks the opening of a local interest movie, “Ford V Ferrari,” starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. The Riviera is also looking forward to seeing sell-out crowds for the long-awaited “Frozen” sequel, opening Nov. 22.
“People can go on our email list or social media to find out when these movies come out,” Boudreau said, mentioning Facebook and Twitter as possible sources for Emagine movie news.
Boudreau said other plans are in the works for a renovated and expanded concession area at The Riviera. There will be new menu items, plus an updated look to the area, she said. It’s not certain when this work will begin, but it will likely be next year, after the prime movie season.
The Riviera looks forward to being able to accommodate more guests and attract die hard movie-goers with updated technology. And while this is also true other movie theatres, Boudreau wanted to stress that guests can purchase their tickets online before coming to the theatre. Beyond the security of knowing you have tickets, there’s one great perk of buying online through Emagine: “You can choose your seat,” she said.