Cinemark's newly renovated Arden theaters. Century Arden 14 and XD

For months we've watched and waited as the Century Cinedomes at Arden and Ethan were demolished and rebuilt as a brand new, shiny theater - the Century Arden 14 and XD as they are known.

As the name denotes, there are 14 theaters. While there is still a medley of big and small, all now have "Luxury Lounges". Basically, they are nice, cushy, wide, electronic recliners. They have buttons on the right so that you can move back and forth. My complaint is that they don't push back very far and have no lumbar support, so I'll be stashing a back pillow in my car for if I ever go to these theaters again.

large theater

The more important thing to note is that every theater is reserved seating, meaning as you buy your ticket, you'll be asked to select a seat. This is going to take some getting used and will definitely encourage people to load the app on their phone. After all, once you make a decision to go to a movie, you should choose your seats because if you wait to the last minute and just show up, all the decent seats might be already assigned. This will mean a real change in thinking and prepping to go to a movie at a Cinemark. 

I happened to go on a weekday matinee and so the theater was pretty much empty. Typically, as people enter, they would choose a seat or more away from someone else. Human behavior is for people to put a space between. Well, I was seated in a nice center seat I had chosen and a couple came in and sat right next to me because these were assigned seats. The whole place is almost empty and yet here they were, right at my elbow. To make matters worse, they reeked of smoke.

Later I talked to Greg, one of the managers. He said that if there are lots of empty seats after the previews, then you should be OK to change seats. But that won't be possible during busy showings. 

small theater

The screen itself is very large. So much so that it was a bit much for me. I was in a small theater in the 2nd from the back row and I was wanting to move back as far as I could, which was only another row.

There are some changes in the lobby. First, you don't have to stand out in the weather to buy tickets. The box office and line are inside the theater.

Second is that you can now buy beer and wine at the concessions. They do not have a full bar like the Studio Movie Grill in Rocklin, but still, those that like a beer will be happy.

As a reminder, if you know you are going to go, buy your tickets online or via the app as soon as possible to pick good seats. And if you have a bad back like me, then take a pillow with you.  

Expect the newly renovated Cinemark theaters downtown by the arena to be a similar setup when they reopen next year.