SCHERERVILLE — Go to a movie in Chicago — at, say, the Music Box Theatre, ArcLight Cinemas, or the AMC River East 21 — and you can grab a craft beer, glass of wine or even a fancy cocktail to enjoy while you're watching the show.
Now libations are coming to the big screen in Northwest Indiana.
AMC Schererville 12 and AMC Schererville 16, still colloquially known as Showplace 12 and Showplace 16, have each applied for liquor licenses.
AMC Schererville 12, the smaller of the two cineplexes at 1400 Eagle Ridge Drive in Schererville, has applied for a "Beer & Wine Retailer-Restaurant" permit, according to state records. AMC Schererville 16 at 875 Deer Creek Drive is pursuing both "Beer & Wine Retailer-Restaurant" and "Beer Wine & Liquor-Restaurant" permits.
Douglas Devine, a processer with Indiana's Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, said the permit requests will go before the state commission on March 19.
AMC, the nearly century-old suburban Kansas City-based movie theater chain, did not return requests for comment on its plans.
Schererville Town Manager Robert Volkmann said AMC, the largest movie theater chain in America, has not yet filed any permits to add bar or restaurant areas.
Alcoholic beverages have long been served at plays and other performing arts venues. Thanks partly to the popularity of Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse, which has waiters bring movie-goers sometimes film-themed food and drink inside the theater, booze has become an increasingly common amenity at urban movie theaters. Both arthouse theaters and cineplex chains in Chicago and other major cities serve beer, wine and cocktails from their concession stands, and often have bars where one can buy beer to bring into the theater, or enjoy a drink with friends or a date before or after the show.
"It is pretty common in the urban theaters and on the East Coast, even in the suburban theaters there," Volkmann said. "It's been drifting this way. A lot of the theaters in Illinois have alcoholic beverages. You can sometimes get pretty elaborate food in addition to beer or cocktails."
Volkmann said the addition of adult beverages would help make AMC Schererville 12 and AMC Schererville 16 even bigger regional attractions. They could help draw more adult customers at a time when much of the summer blockbuster fare targets teenagers and more people prefer to stay home to watch Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services.
"This is pretty exciting," Volkmann said. "People who are coming to the movies want to enjoy an adult beverage like they can in Illinois. It'll mean more revenue for the theaters. It can be a draw. It's a step in the right direction."
The Hobart Art Theatre in downtown Hobart started offering food and adult beverages from the neighboring Three Monkeys Pub last year, but that vintage Art Deco theater has shifted away from first-run films and now focuses more on live music, stand-up comedy and even simulcast sporting events like the Bears-Eagles playoff matchup that ended with the ignominious double-doink.