By Daniel Montaño, Managing Editor | Photos by Daniel Montaño and INFOBARREL.COM AND MAIN.ABQJOURNAL.NETDNA
Like Las Vegas, a vibrant neon oasis has sprung up amongst a barren concrete and asphalt wasteland in Albuquerque’s northeast heights.
Regal’s Winrock Stadium 16, Albuquerque’s newest movie theater, has been long awaited by fans of premium movie experiences, and it finally officially opened for business on Friday.
The Chronicle was there for the new theater’s grand opening and reviewed the cinema and festivities on Nov. 16.
Situated in the Winrock Town Center at 2100 Louisiana Blvd NE, which has been a relative retail wasteland for over a decade as plans have been meticulously laid for the revival of the shopping center, the theater itself is an impressive sight in the midst of ongoing construction.
The crowd was huge on opening night, because many people have been looking forward to this theater for months coming to Albuquerque.
That is in part because the theater touts Albuquerque’s first commercial IMAX auditorium, and the closest Albuquerque had before was the DynaTheater attached to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, which is a Dolby theater, so it does not count — because if you cannot watch Thor smash things with his hammer, it is not real IMAX.
Unfortunately, as it turns out, this theater is not a real IMAX theater either.
The theater is instead equipped with “digital IMAX,” a smaller version of the real thing, about half the size, which features dual digital projectors instead of the dual 70mm projectors in a true IMAX auditorium.
That being said, both the IMAX and Regal Premium Experience (RPX) auditoriums at Albuquerque’s newest theater are deeply impressive, both boasting a richer movie experience with a better, bigger, brighter picture, far better sound and more comfortable seating.
The RPX auditorium has the edge when it comes to sound, featuring a 100,000 watt speaker system including eight 21 inch subwoofers, according to boxoffice.com, which all work together to engulf one in the sound of the film.
While watching “Enders Game,” one could feel the auditorium shake during explosions, an auditory experience that warrants a second viewing.
The IMAX auditorium clearly has a better picture, however, and both auditoriums offered luxurious, comfortable leather seating.
Whether or not all that is worth the price ($17.25 for IMAX at any time of day, and an additional $4 on the regular ticket price for RPX) is up to the individual moviegoer.
The staff was friendly, albeit a bit bumbling, which might have just been a symptom of opening night jitters and the massive crowd rather than incompetence.
Overall the staff was very accommodating, friendly and helpful, even if getting a soda in the massive concession stand takes a bit longer than one would expect.
The concession stand spans the length of the brightly lit and captivating lobby, and serves more the traditional movie theater fare, including cheeseburgers, hot wings and pizza.
Although the food options are not traditional for a movie theater, the prices are traditionally high, so do not come here expecting a cheap date.
The lobby is relatively small, giving most of its room to concessions and leaving most of the 72,000 square foot operating space open to serve why people actually go to a movie theater — to watch movies.
Overall, enjoying a movie at Regal’s Winrock Stadium 16 is a wonderful experience and definitely fresh for Albuquerque, although it is a bit expensive.