Xscape to Blankenbaker 14

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

When choosing to see a movie in the theater, you can weigh your options based on proximity or the experience they guarantee. Maybe I’m the type that can find satisfaction in a nearly empty, small auditorium sitting upright while sipping on a black coffee, but there are some major advantages to seeking out a big new place to see a movie. Off I-64 in Middletown sits a new state-of-the-art movie theater with 14 auditoriums and an array of unique features. Xscape is a new national theater chain, and the Blankenbaker 14 is their first Kentucky location.

When you make your way past the other developments in Sycamore Station Place, the multiplex glows at the top of the hill as a beacon for people going to see “Star Wars,” “The Big Short” and “Daddy’s Home” – but mostly “Star Wars.”

My lady and I were going to see “Star Wars” on a December night (for the second time), and it was raining hard. Parking was not an issue, considering the place was packed and we had pre-purchased tickets for a sold-out show.

A wide kiosk booth for electronic purchase or Internet ticket printing is the first thing available when entering the building, which saves a lot of time on ticket lines and allows more for the concession area. When we made our way over to the vast space dedicated to filling our empty stomachs with movie munchies, we opted for the staple popcorn, candy, soda and all-beef hot dogs. We had to resist the option of White Castle sliders offered up among other decadent choices.

Of course, as many theaters have caught on to the demand, beer and wine are sold as well. If sipping on some suds or fermented grape juice sounds like a relaxing way to enjoy a movie, things get really comfortable when you enter any of the theater auditoriums, which all house electric cozy leather recliners for the seating of all customers. As we made our way into the Xtreme Xscape Presentation house  number two, we turned off our phones and made ourselves too comfortable. You can literally lay back and enjoy the show. Just don’t fall asleep! Snorers are more annoying than texters.

Following advances since the beginning of the digital conversion boom, Xscape also features 4K projection, promising an image with twice the detail compared to the standard digital projection found in most theaters.

More detail is necessary because two of the houses feature what are now the largest movie screens in the Louisville area for anyone with a desire to get more size out of their spectacle. The curved 70-foot tall giants dominate their respective auditoriums of stadium recliners assuring an immersive viewing experience.

Recliners and size aside, I must say that the best technical perk at this theater is their use of the new Dolby Atmos process to provide the most dynamic digital surround sound available. This is accomplished through 50 speakers – some of which are attached to the ceiling to emit noises from above! In “The Force Awakens,” the deep bass of the spaceships and the high treble of the strings in John Williams’ score had equal power with crystal-clear dialogue in between.

Xscape also has a rewards program for racking up points with every ticket purchased. I’m sure that big movie loving families could see some immediate benefits in this. Naturally, closed captioning sets and listening devices are available. Theater rental can also be arranged as well if you are planning a very special event.

The world of movie presentation has changed and so have audiences. People have better home viewing options than ever before and some people don’t even have the attention span. For die-hard movie fans like me, it’s hard to be sure of what experience you’re getting when you go to the movies. Concession options can be annoyingly limited; IMAX is more often a name than the unique big screen experience implied; some theater seating can be uncomfortable; and sound can still be really bad in some places.

Blankenbaker 14 demonstrates the industry’s adaptation to some of the key problems moviegoers observe. As a result, it’s big, it’s pleasantly thunderous and you can slip into that couch-like trance typically found at home while nibbling on a variety of crunchy snacks. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future for this advanced establishment, which I’m sure will continue its big business. VT

For more information or online ticketing, visit xscapetheatres.com.