Moviegoers in Tupelo are getting luxurious reclining chairs at both Cinemark and Malco, and it’s a New Albany-based company that’s supplying the new seats.

VIP Cinema Seating, which got its start in 2008, has been delivering and installing chairs in half of the eight theaters at Cinemark at The Mall at Barnes Crossing this week.

“We’re looking to finish our first phase with theaters one through four by this Friday; at least, that’s the target,” said Hope Bruens, marketing manager for Cinemark. “Then the second phase will be completed on Nov. 17.”

Not to be outdone, Malco will be replacing the seats with VIP seating starting around the first of the year.

Like Cinemark, replacing the old with the new will mean fewer seats overall at Malco.

In Cinemark’s case, seating will drop from 1,384 to 613.

“Recliner seating typically reduces seating capacity by 50 percent, and with the upcoming holiday product, we wanted to have as much capacity as possible,” said Malco Vice President and director of marketing Karen Melton. “Due to our stadium seating, the renovations are more complex and will take longer.”

But fewer seats are actually expected to lead to higher revenue.

Steve Simons, the CEO of VIP Seating, said theaters with reclining seating typically see overall revenue increase 60 percent or more.

“The reality of all this in pure dollars is in sales numbers when a theater puts in premium seats,” Simons said. “Ticket sales increase 60, 70, 80 percent or more. When you don’t put in premium seats in an area, the theaters lose 5-8 percent annually. Those are factual numbers. It doesn’t take long to figure out that you want to be the first player in the area to have those premium seats, and if you’re not the first, you need to at least get there.”

Cinemark said it will not be raising ticket prices to help pay for the seats; Malco said it’s too early to comment.

In any case, moviegoers will see and feel a “dramatic difference” in their theater experiences, Simons said.

The luxury reclining chairs are six inches or more wider than standard movie theater chairs and have power mechanisms for moviegoers to allow the seats to recline and to raise their feet. Cupholders are built-in, of course.

“Cinemark may be losing seats, but they’ll be filling what they have. There will be fewer empty seats,” Simons said. “We’re really excited about this project, as we’ve been doing Cinemark locations all over the country. We convinced them to try it out in a smaller market like Tupelo.”

Because of its growing market share worldwide – it’s now 80 percent – VIP has added manufacturing capacity and workers.

The company added another 160,000 square feet of manufacturing space last year, bringing its total footprint to 600,000 square feet. The company now employs 550 people in New Albany, where they produce up to 1,200 chairs a day.

VIP introduced luxury reclining seating to the theater industry in 2008, and since then has completed more than 500 projects and delivered some 600,000 seats worldwide.

“This whole concept of premium reclining seating has gone worldwide, and we’re opening a European plant,” Simons said. “Offices and staff will be in the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2018, and the manufacturing plant will open in the second half of the year.”

That plant will help meet demand overseas for VIP seating. Two years ago, VIP completed deals for projects in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea.

Unlike residential furniture, the theater chairs are made from high-resilience foam, kiln-dried hardwood and steel frames so they can withstand heavy and constant use.