Growing up in Ocean City, many (yes, many) girls nights, dates, rainy summer afternoons, or cold winter nights have been spent at the local movie theaters. For several years, there was the movie theater in the White Marlin Mall (where Michaels now stands). The other options included Sun & Surf on 143rd Street and the theaters at the Gold Coast Mall. As time went on, these theaters seemed to stay frozen in time, lacking in the improvements or renovations that we were seeing in other area theaters. Ultimately this prompted the longer treks to Rehoboth Midway Theaters or to the Salisbury Mall. So when we heard about some major improvements to the Fox Sun & Surf Cinema in uptown Ocean City – including the new reclining chairs – we were excited to say the least. A trip to the theater and a tour with Fox Theatres President Don Fox revealed a significantly improved movie experience not only for us locals, but for the thousands of visitors that find themselves looking for other ways to enjoy their stay in Ocean City.

“It’s really transformative. There’s just nothing else like it,” Fox commented as we reclined back in the over-sized, exceptionally comfortable, new recliners. “We found that you are in such a relaxed state now that you actually end up experiencing much, much more.”

Now you may be thinking, ‘how much can a simple chair transform your movie watching experience’? Well, if you’ve ever found yourself wiggling and squirming halfway through a three hour movie, than you know just how transformative good seating can be. The new “luxury power recliners” are located in ALL of the theaters at Sun & Surf and are heralded as the only seats of their kind on Delmarva. Fox was no stranger to the forward-thinking seating however, as he previously embarked on a similar overhaul at another Fox Theatre location in Reading, PA.

The new seating includes electronic controls for reclining the seat back and for raising the footrest. Expect ample space in each seat, with plenty of room to get cozy for show time. Another spatial improvement has been made in the aisles, where your allotted leg room seems to have doubled (good news for our tall friends who like to sprawl out). As a result, the total amount of seating in each theater has decreased. “Even though the spacious luxury recliners reduce theater capacity by over half, we’ve more than doubled our tickets sales at (our) Pennsylvania location,” said Fox, who anticipates similar growth at Sun & Surf. So far, the sentiment is ringing true, with ticket sales increasing 100% over Memorial Day Weekend despite industry figures dropping 5% overall.

Similarly, Fox anticipates a growth in market share. As we noted earlier, before the renovations we would typically opt to drive further to a nicer theater, but with the improvements, the scales have been drastically tipped in favor of Sun & Surf. Of course Fox also aims to enhance the Ocean City experience for tourists as well as by offering “a true alternative destination” for vacationers to enjoy during their stay. “You can’t see a movie back home like you can here,” pointed out Fox, adding that he hopes the new theaters will elevate the options for entertainment in Ocean City.

While the new recliners are certainly noteworthy (and a MAJOR game changer for our local movie theaters), we were equally as impressed with the new option to reserve your seats ahead of time! With the new Fox Theatres app, you can not only buy your tickets ahead of time, but also pick out and reserve exactly which seats you want to sit in. So if you are notoriously late (or are burdened with a significant other, child, or best friend who is) you needn’t worry about getting stuck in the front row, along the side, or separated from your friends. It begs the question…why haven’t they always done it this way?

In addition to the improved seating, expect a complete overhaul of the interior of each room. “The shell of the building is the same,” said Fox. “But inside, we have rebuilt every room.” Drywall, ceilings, lighting, sound…the space was completely overhauled over the winter. The $1.5 million reconstruction of the theaters was officially completed on May 20.

With an awesome lineup of movies hitting the big screen this summer, you can guarantee we will be cooling off in the AC after a long day at the office or on the beach…feet propped up, extra large popcorn in hand, and relaxation in full effect.