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.
Premier, Premium, Star Seating etc is a load of bollocks. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE should get a confortable seat. When you're parting with £8-£12 a time I shouldn't have to pay to be comfy. Furthermore, tip-up seats so last decade and are not comfy. The Regal in Evesham and Finnkino get a firm stamp of approval from me because of their plush red velour seats that you can really sink into and don't tip-up.
With the advent of automation and digital projection, we seem to have forgotten how lighting should operate in a cinema. 100% brightness up to the trailers, down to 50% brightness for the trailers and emergency lighting only for the main feature. Several times, I've found myself walking into the foyer to find someone to knock of the lights because the automation didn't work.
Where did the curtains go? Arriving, the sense of expectation and excitement is increased because the screen is hidden by the curtains, and it gives a sense of occasion. The Odeon in Salisbury has curtains but doesn't use them - what a waste (they also don't bother moving the screen masking either)! The Regal in Evesham gets thumbs up for having and using curtains, but loses marks for waiting for the curtains to open on a blank screen before firing up the projector. We all know that the punter shouldn't see a blank screen if you have curtains, and the certificate should be projected onto the curtains as they open. Schoolboy mistake.
5. Enforcing Cinema Ettiquette
I'll probably do another post on this, but over the years the policy trailers asking people to zip it, stop mucking with mobile phones and the like have slowly disappeared because there are no staff on hand to enforce it. The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas gets a thumbs up for their no-nonsense approach to ejecting people that don't follow the rules, and Odeon Salisbury for turfing out three people from "The Lady In Black" for texting during the film.
So, there you go - five things that I'd like to see in our cinemas.