I am a giant nerd. I don’t mean the new cool brand of nerd: Rich, beautiful, and successful people who put on glasses and sweater vests or watch Big Bang Theory and brag about it. I mean the collecting comic books, experimenting with chemistry, midnight movie showing, going to Comic-Con type of nerd. My main obsession is movies; I’m the guy who can tell you who that one actor was in that one thing, and hey, I’m ok with that. The influx of comic book film adaptations over the past decade has been manna from heaven, and I didn’t believe anything could improve upon the experience . After watching The Avengers (again) at Island Cinemas newly redesigned luxury theater, I will never go to another movie theater in Orange County again. Mild movie spoilers may follow…
Island Cinemas is up on the second floor in the back part of Fashion Island, by the Daily Grill. The lobby emulates the look of a 5-star hotel; cleanly patterned carpets, sleek upscale décor, and modern architectural touches and lighting create an atmosphere of sophistication and luxury. The hallways are as ornately embellished as the halls of Asgard; I almost thought I was going to the opera and not to watch Iron Man head butt Thor. Tickets are slightly more than other theaters, but you can reserve your seats ahead of time. The main attraction for me was the promise of gourmet food, which was essentially delivered on.
Epicurean options abound: hummus, paninis, chili, pizzas, pretzels, mac and cheese, and the theater staples of popcorn and candy. Beer, wine, and champagne can also be enjoyed (in certain theaters) as you watch Loki rain destruction upon Manhattan. We pick the Supreme Pizza and Cheddar Mac & Cheese, which are delivered about 15 minutes later to our comfortable leather recliner seats. The pizza was not your regular microwaved movie theater hotmess of dough and cheese, but an actual bonafide pizza. The crust struck that great balance between crispy and chewy, and all the individual ingredients (sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers) shone through without overpowering each other. The mac & cheese was creamy but missed some sort of salt zest, like Captain America missing one of Tony Stark’s pop culture references (ha, flying monkeys). And if seeing the Hulk smash everything in sight isn’t sweet enough, you can enjoy some of the gelato available in the lobby.
On the whole, the service and food are absolutely worth the few extra bucks. Don’t worry, a small soda is still the size of a toddler’s head, so as not to do away with the traditional movie-going experience.
P.S. Stay till the end of the Avengers credits. You won’t be disappointed.
Mile-High Club First-Class Business Class Economy
Check ’em out at:
999 Newport Center Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Photography by Cristiana Wilcoxon