Cinema

How Can UK Cinemas Do Better?

A Finnkino Auditorium

As UK cinemas attempt to get more punters through the door and maximise the spend of each cinemagoer, with gimmicks such as premium seating, 3D and allocated seats, I'm going to look at what     I would like to see from a cinema, and what would get me going week after week.

1. Auditorium Layout

I'm not a fan of stadium seating, unless it's done well.  Finnkino, a Nordic cinema operator get the thumbs up from me on their seating layouts.  While they are stadium arrangements (I've visited their Tennispalatsi, Kinopalatsi, Plevna and Plaza sites), there isn't a bad seat in the house as the steps raise each row enough so that the person in front doesn't detract from the view.  Furthermore, Finnkino seem to have actively acknowledged that no-one wants to sit at the front and leave a respectable gap between the front row and the screen.

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Allocated Seating: Cinema Alternatives?

A digital projector

As the customer backlash over Allocated Seating at Cineworld continues, I thought I'd try my luck at the Empire Cinema in Swindon last night.  

Swindon is a strange town cinematically; when I moved down here in 2000 I used to go to Virgin Cinema, subsequently the UGC in West Swindon as opposed to the Cineworld at Greenbridge.  As a UGC unlimited card holder I used to consume a fair few films, but drew that to a close after a few service issues and started going to Cineworld.  Cineworld later took over the UGC chain which left them in the unusual position of having two cinemas in the town, and ultimately being the only cinema operator here.  Due to our Fair Trading Laws, Cineworld were compelled to sell one of the cinemas to open up competition, however in what I felt was a surprise move, they kept the former UGC location and sold the Greenbridge cinema they custom built and fitted in 1999 to Empire Cinemas.

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What's going on at Cineworld?

Tip up seats - why?

I've been a regular Cineworld customer for several years now, an Unlimited cardholder for about half of that time, and a shareholder for three years, but I'm beginning to lose all of that love for the chain.  Why, I hear you ask?  Two words: Allocated Seating.

There's never been any issue with seating at the Swindon site; most of the screens are big enough to accommodate everyone, and only the first night of big blockbuster shows such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings have ever needed allocated seating.  So, why, when turning up to the Saturday, 12.30 showing of "The Fault In Our Stars", am I asked "Front, Middle or Back"?  It's an unnecessary stream of red tape that I don't want to have to deal with, and it doesn't give me the opportunity to pick the seat three rows from the back, on the right hand side on the aisle, or K22 as it's better known.  To get that level of granularity, you need to book online.  

The benefit of being an Unlimited card holder is the impulse view, the ability to just "rock up" to the cinema, get a ticket and watch a film without the hassle of online booking.  It seems that to achieve the comfort I'm used to, I'll need to carry my laptop and "Three dongle" around, just in case I have the urge to watch a film, probably sitting in the foyer booking the ticket before waltzing up to counter to collect it.  It's positively absurd.

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