You may have noticed a recent trend of cinemas attempting to enhance the viewing experience. Cinemas around the country are upgrading to razor sharp 4k digital projection, crystal clear sound and stepped seating providing an unobstructed vantage point. However some cinemas are focussing more on viewer comfort, offering alcoholic drinks, food and the kind of seating you’d be delighted to have in your front room.
Two weeks ago, one of East London’s most famous cinemas Whitechapel’s Genesis joined the growing number of venues offering a premium viewing experience with the opening of its Studio 5.
The old upright seats have been replaced by a selection of ridiculously comfortable sofas and armchairs that accommodate up to 40 people and there’s ample leg room with footstools provided. There’s also a corner bar that shuts five minutes before the film starts, that serves a selection of drinks (including Meantime lager and ale) and a range of food, such as olives, hummus and pitta bread. They’ve also incorporated a number of inventive touches including footstools that double as storage for bags and coats, and a divider on the sofa that unravels into a blanket.
Of course, all this added luxury comes at a price and although the £12 ticket at weekends and £10 Monday-Thursday are a bit more than the Genesis’ normal rates, it compares very favourably with central London’s standard ticket prices. Having sampled the screen, I can confirm that it is a fantastic way to watch a film and with the right programming should be a huge success. The only problem I could foresee was that the seats are so comfortable, it might be difficult to get punters to leave.
We caught up with Genesis manager, Tyrone Walker-Hebborn for a short question and answer session.
DCM – So Tyrone, tell us about your newly transformed screen 5?
As part of our ongoing refurbishment we have ripped 100 seats out of one of our smaller screens & reintroduced 40 seats in the form of luxury sofas & armchairs. We completely gutted the space redesigned & redecorated with high end materials, installed a bar & 9 days later, voila, STUDIO 5 our first boutique luxury screen which gives a really wonderful viewing experience for our customers who don’t mind paying a little more for a special night out at the movies. They now have luxury seating, foot stalls which double up as ottomans for your coats, bags, cycle clips etc. table service with our premium local MEANTIME Lager & Pale Ale, a range of Olives Peppers & Hummus & even blankets to snuggle under, a perfect way to make your date feel special. It also is a great venue for private functions & screenings.
DCM – What films are you particularly looking forward to this year and why?
Prometheus 3D and The Dark Knight Rises. Prometheus because Ridley Scott is just an amazing director and so meticulous it’s scary, also because Billy his prop guy worked with me on our film EDGE, which is being released on the 13th April (shameless plug!) and it’ll be funny to see how he’s gone from a low budget British Independent movie to a massive budget Hollywood blockbuster. Dark Knight Rises, because it’s BATMAN, do I need to say more? OK, well, with Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale & Tom Hardy it’s going to be one of the top cinema experiences of 2012.
DCM – What are your thoughts on The Olympics and how do you think it will affect your business?
I’m very excited about the Olympics for a number of reasons. Firstly it’s primarily in East London, apart from Westminster stealing the marathon that was originally going to be running past Genesis, politics eh! It’s a fantastic boost to an often overlooked part of London that is the most interesting area both culturally and demographically in our capital city. Secondly, finger’s crossed, my cousin Chris Walker-Hebborn may be competing in the 200m back-stroke which will be very cool if he gets selected. Good Luck Chris! Lastly, being a builder at heart and having friends working on the Olympic site, it’s been incredible seeing the wonderful architecture and logistics that has gone into those beautiful buildings. I’m looking forward to seeing them come to life. As far as business, we’ve already picked up a few private screenings and events. We’re working with sponsors who want our sort of space during the event, really not sure if regular cinema will go up or down though, I guess we’ll find out soon enough!
DCM – Who would play you in a film and why?
Ha ha, tough one! Erm, I should probably say Sting because everyone says HE looks like ME! But of course I’m going to say Brad Pitt, ahem!
DCM – What are your Top 5 films of all time?
Wow! Always difficult and I always feel I should say something arty and classic but these films all have wonderful memories for me for lots of different reasons, but they take me back to some very special moments in my life and no, I’m not going to tell you why! . 1) Monsters Inc. 2) Pulp Fiction 3) Planes, Trains and Automobiles 4) Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels 5) Point Break! There you have it, honest answers of my completely commercial ‘Desert Island Movies’. (I know should’ve said Cinema Paradiso!)
DCM – Any claims to fame?
More infamy really, I told Danny Boyle (who’s a regular at ours) as he was going off to Mumbai to film a new movie, after he’d given me the synopsis, that it sounded like a load of rubbish to me and to be careful. That film was…Slumdog Millionaire! 8 Oscars later…’nuff said!
Original picture and article published in Digital Media Cinema.