Monday, 27 February 2012

Forget 3D & 4D; Are 'Fine Dining Experiences' the future?

3D, 4D or Tea-D?

The film industry is always on the lookout for other ways to generate money, create fresher and more interactive experiences, and evolve cinema to line their pockets. New elements have been integrated, with the most recent and obvious gimmick being 3D, which has divided audiences as to whether popping on plastic specs actually enhances an experience or indeed, hinders it. Similarly, 4D is currently being introduced to Cineworlds across the UK, where audiences will have the (dis)pleasure of their seats moving and vibrating at every car chase, scare and explosion.

So, opinion remains varied, but for every Mark Kermode (noble advocate of 'classic' cinema with a vengeful  distaste for 3D), you'll have a trio of Michael Bays that insist the bigger and louder the explosion, the more enjoyment people will get out of it.

However, upon whetting your appetite for yet another 3D debate, that is unfortunately where it ends, as an even newer service is being introduced to the world of cinema. You can now place yourself in a comfy-looking, freshly built fifty-seater auditorium such as this...

...Impressive, isn't it?

Odeon Cinemas - Whiteleys of Bayswater, London specifically  - have recently opened Britain's first high-end, fine dining cinema where customers can enjoy an atmospheric bar to relax in, luxurious cinema interior, as well as freshly prepared, high quality meals and tipple as you enjoy your film. The Lounge will also offer an on-site concierge desk and private bar stocked with fine wines, champagnes, beers and cocktails for guests, run by Mixologist Ian Stewart – former Bar Manager at some of the UK’s most prestigious hotels, including The Ritz and The Savoy. Sounds nice enough, but are there any draw backs and just how much will this cost?

Recession, what recession?

For the luxury of an exclusive over 18s bar, individual seating, and - get this - sound proof tables (the mind is officially blown), there is obviously a literal price to pay and it's not particularly cheap. For the thrifty people amongst us there's a real sting in the tail, as the standard adult and student ticket price is £18 (and that doesn't include any nibbles).

Should you wish to indulge in the cuisine (and after all, why would you attend The Lounge and pay the premium if that wasn't your intention?), the menu is mouth-watering and is created by top chef Rowley Leigh. It's divided into three categories: finger, fork, and spoon, which you can view here. If the photos are anything to go by, then it seems like you're in for a delicious time indeed. However, the price for a decent meal and glass of wine won't leave you much change from a twenty, so the question is this: is a night out at a fancy cinema worth £40 a head? Sure, if you can afford it, then why not dabble? If money is no object, then seeing The Descendants whilst munching a plate of fish and chips, as one sips a glass of Pinot Grigio will surely be a pleasant way to pass an evening.

But beware: every 'package' has its downfall. Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you're settling down having spent almost half a ton to see the words One For The Money appear on screen in front of you. Obviously it'll make you even more cautious as to your choice of film simply because of the excessive price you are paying. For example, who would pay such inflated prices to see Adam Sandler parade around dressed as a woman when you can do that in front of the mirror at home for free? Take a moment to recover from all that and you'll see the current, if not limited, screening selection does in fact include a few belters like the Oscar-winning The Artist, as well as stinkers like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; so for the love of God, choose wisely.

For the average punter, it's a service that would rarely be called upon aside from special occasions such as a birthday, in which case surely you'd go out to an actual restaurant rather than pay for the privilege of a movie whilst essentially eating your tea on your knee.

Don't get me wrong; I love the idea of a high-class cinema experience, but it doesn't strike me as something that can be integrated into everyday life. I don't think it's achievable. I'd happily try out a night at The Lounge; a few drinks pre-screening in the relaxing atmosphere of the bar, followed by a tasty meal as I watch something on the big screen, sounds like an intriguing prospect, if only as a fad as it seems a little implausible for this to take off in a broader sense. For those who can afford it, you'll soon forget the gimmick of  dull, nauseating 3D, and find yourself content with the new surroundings Odeon has to offer, ensuring you don't spill your champers and lasagne all over yourself in a rumbling 4D chair.

I'll leave you with one thought...

...Is this  really the future of cinema?