In the old days, the toughest decision moviegoers had to make was deciding whether to see comedy, action, or drama. Nowadays, what's playing onscreen is almost beside the point. As cinemas face increasing competition from mobile streaming and video games, not to mention web surfing and, oh yes, television, exhibitors have begun to lavish unprecedented attention on the experience of going to the movies.

Palladium AVX Entertainment
Santikos Theatres
7301 Grand Parkway
Richmond, TX 77407

Santikos Theatres' new location in Richmond is the latest Houston-area cinema to offer so much pampering and non-movie distractions that it hardly matters that the cookie-cutter sequel you're going to see is lame. The Santikos Palladium AVX  Entertainment Complex opens tonight at 7301 Grand Parkway. Notice that it's called an "entertainment complex." The formal name, and the faux-Greek facade, make it seem like anything but a movie house. Going to the Palladium is about having a night out with friends. It may or may not include actually seeing a movie. But if you do decide to watch a film, the theater offers large floor-to-ceiling screens and the latest technology, including motion seats, to make the experience truly immersive.

At the Palladium, as at the other Santikos location in Tomball, you can dine and drink alcoholic beverages in any of several restaurants and bars, or you can take your food and libations into the theater with you to enjoy in your seat, which you have the option of reserving in advance. Unlike the Tomball location, you and your friends also can enjoy a night of bowling—the complex has 16 full lanes. Eight of the 22 auditoriums at the Palladium have VIP sections where patrons can order food and drink during the movie. If that's not special enough for you, four of the auditoriums will offer private VIP rooms for your viewing pleasure.

The Palladium is only the latest of a growing number of Houston-area cinemas, including the Sundance Cinema downtown and the two Alamo Drafthouse locations, that aim to enhance the moviegoing experience. And the Palladium won't be the last such destination. A luxury eight-screen iPic movie theater that offers plush, reclining seats and a "fine dining experience" is scheduled to open in the Galleria area in 2014.


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