In 2014, cinema admittances plummeted to their lowest levels since 1995, a decline most noticeable among 14 to 24 year olds. More often than not, the increasing popularity of streaming services like Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Instant Video were blamed for this slump.
However, according to the UK cinema association, for the first time since 2011 annual cinema spending is up significantly. So what’s changed?
Intimate cinemas and luxury service
A new state-of-the-art cinema at The Sussex Exchange allows you to experience films in a more spacious and relaxed atmosphere. You can enjoy private dining, automatic reclining seats and even your very own mini-bar! It’s the latest development in an ongoing battle to create a cinema experience which can’t be replicated at home.
There are many other examples of local cinemas shifting the focus back on ‘experience’. For example, Everyman Cinema’s Screen on the Green in Islington offers a complete hot food and drink service inside the theatre, and audiences can enjoy a waiter service from their cinema seats. With luxurious sofas and footrests, it’s the perfect place to relax.
If you’re into something with a little more heritage, The Phoenix in East Finchley is about as traditional as it gets, and prides itself on enforcing the rules to eliminate disruption by unruly guests. The cinema shows a mix of independent and foreign films, and its auditorium is rightly prized as one of the most beautiful places to watch a film in London.
‘Higher’ cinema experience
At over 20 metres high and 26 metres wide, no home theatre can quite replicate the London IMAX experience. The massive size and state-of-the-art 3D technology provides a uniquely immersive experience. Combine it with digital surround sound and there’s nothing quite like it.
But IMAX is just the beginning. Hollywood is taking huge forwards steps towards 4D and sensory cinema, and this is one way cinemas could really step up their game. Viewers of Batman vs Superman in Manhattan, for example, could enjoy rain, fog and a gourmet feast of scents choreographed to on-screen action.
Kinetic seats are becoming popular too. Like custom-built theatre thrill rides popular in theme parks, kinetic effects are carefully synchronised to the on-screen action. This ranges from ‘intelligent vibrations’ to a popcorn-throwing jolt backwards if a character is punched on screen.
Themed cinemas and gimmicks
Another way in which local cinemas are making their mark is through creative projects like film-themed or seasonal events, costume parties and sing/quote alongs. This November, London’s Prince Charles Cinema brings a real showcase—a six-movie marathon of the films that inspired Stranger Things with costume competitions and live music!
Others bring their own version of an immersive experience to their audiences. For example, Backyard Cinema is a team of cinema lovers popping up in iconic or unusual locations around London, and using in-depth sets, actors and live music to create immersive experiences. This winter, they’ll bring the spellbinding ‘Winter Night Garden’ where audiences can enjoy a festive array of Christmas classics set amongst a beautiful, indoor snow-dusted forest.
Some are even more ambitious: Edible Cinema is a collaboration of artists bringing audiences a wholly unique way to experience film: through aroma, texture and taste. Each guest is supplied with a tray of numbered mystery boxes containing a bite-sized tasting menu matched to specific moments in the film. If that’s not enough, check out these other themed cinemas around the world.
According to chief commercial officer at Odeon, Andy Edge: “There’s a great future plan of films, both original and franchise, audiences are looking healthy and cinema chains are more focused on guest experience, ensuring that while the filmmakers do their bit, the cinema exhibitors does theirs.” Here’s hoping the cinema continues to thrive.