Cinemas look to embrace the VIP suite concept

In amongst the damage done to the Live Event industry by the coronavirus, it’s easy to overlook the impact being felt by cinemas and the wider box office-linked film industry which has similarly been pummelled.

It’s a reasonable assumption that the cinemas we return to, when we return, will be just the same as the ones we were forced to stop attending earlier this year.

But is that really true? As asked, ‘What will the movie-going experience look like in 2025? 2030? We are in a weird era where we have no idea when it'll be safe to go back to the theatre, and when we do go back, what movies will be left?’

So what better place to watch a movie in a post-coronavirus world than in a vertical cinema in a VIP suite-type concept that is guaranteed to offer social distancing?

Firstly what is a vertical cinema? Well, it's a new idea from French-based Ōma Cinema. Ōma is a new way of thinking about going to the movies. It assembles seating and a screen in such a way that every seat, regardless of where it's located, gets you the best picture quality and sound.

Cinema is poised at the very edge of the same revolution that introduced to Live Events the concept of private suites. But unlike private suites, where the view is – let’s face it – a function of the suite location - the spectacular nature of the architecture means viewers are promised exceptional audio and visual experience, projecting an image that is free of any distortion irrespective of where the suite is located.

It’s hard to disagree with the central point made by Pierre Chican, Ōma’s founder and renowned cinema architect: ‘Whereas all the cinemas built for more than 50 years now are similar and reproduce the same seating arrangement of the audience, this concept of a movie theatre creates a cinematographic experience which is at the same time intimate.’

Chican’s CV includes two of the most successful cinema theatres in Europe: UGC Les Halles (more than 3.1 million tickets sold in 2019) and UGC Bercy (1.9 million tickets sold in 2019) in Paris as well as the Pathé La Valette with the first IMAX laser cinema in France.

Comparison of new suitees with Star Wars
The initial reaction from many cinema fans has drawn on comparisons with Star Wars’ Galactic Senate

NoFilmSchool’s reaction was enthusiastic: ‘I love the sleek concepts. This seating makes it fun for groups and also gives you a more intimate experience. These cinemas are being designed for the spaces available, with one set for Paris. They are not identical like cinemas we see now, but customizable.’

Ōma’s concept is scalable to the existing or planned new structure: so you can choose the size of each platform, number of levels, the number of platforms per level, and so on. That way the developer can make sure each space feels curated for the experience.

Author image
Charlie Charters is a former rugby union official and sports marketing executive turned thriller writer whose debut book Bolt Action was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2010.
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