Opinion: Cinema: a church for all

One size does not fit all, a point that Peter Knight celebrates in cinema terms


I am pretty sure my idea of a great cinema experience will be different to yours. But I bet my idea of a great car, a day out or a superb meal is different too. What’s more, I bet your definition of all those things depends on how you feel on the day, where you are, who you are with and why. It’s a good thing too, because in this 21st century world, we are fortunate to have a cornucopie of choice when it comes to many aspects of our lives — especially in the area of leisure.


If you asked me for my ultimate cinema preferences, I would probably tell you that it would be an independent cinema with history and character, likely an Everyman or a Curzon or maybe The Picturehouse at Uckfield. Something that has atmosphere, not just a black box. I want an ‘old world’ experience, but with the best possible picture and sound. I want somewhere with masking and tabs, maybe even footlights too — in other words somewhere with a bit of showmanship to support the presentation I am paying to see. A comfortable chair and more than just a bucket of popcorn and a cup of Coke, a foyer that is pleasant to wait in until the auditorium is available, with unobtrusive music in the background too, if possible.


When only technology will do

There is a but: I also love technology and new ideas, whether they catch on or not. Everything from Philips Lightvibes or Barco Escape to offerings with more traction, such as 4DX and ScreenX, they all aim to make the experience better. There are times when I want to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster film and only the latest technology will do.


The first film I watched in 4DX was “Wolverine” — I wasn’t blown away. You can read my views in a previous edition of Cinema Technology. However, I persisted and went back and tried 4DX again for the latest “Mission Impossible” film — and I enjoyed the experience. Admittedly, there were still one or two occasions when I was pulled out of the film, so on that basis I would select what I see in 4DX very carefully, just as I would when going to an IMAX cinema. The point is I have the benefit of choice.


Many courses for herds of horses

What I have noticed is that each of the different chains in the UK has a markedly different style and focus. Each appears to be aiming for a specific part of the market. This segmentation helps customers when making their decision about where they should head for their film. I appreciate that living in London I have the opportunity to experience everything from a small community cinema in a village hall, through outdoor pop-up screenings, to multiplexes, historic venues and full-on premium large format experiences, but, increasingly, wherever the customer lives, an accessible variety of cinemas is available to cater to all demands.


As a member of the buying public, I recognise the good fortune we have in such a smorgasbord of cinema types. Wherever you get your shared cinematic experience, you can be sure it’s one that you will enjoy. I think that’s pretty cool. Here’s to variety!


About Peter Knight

Peter Knight is the Commissioning Editor for the Cinema Technology Magazine, along with the Managing Editor for the Mad Cornish Projectionist website. He is still a working projectionist and AV technician with an interest in all things projected both in traditional cinema and elsewhere too. Peter has been running his own business since 2017.

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