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Cinema in a Netflix World

By Ellen Harvey - 13 November 2015 13

Note: It seems fitting that while we are currently looking for the Best of Canberra cinemas, I was invited by Hoyts Belconnen and Hoyts Woden to try out their new recliner seating with a special viewing of Spectre. Best of Canberra cinemas will go head-to-head on Monday.

Recliner09D

In an age when you can watch anything on demand, is cinema dying?

It’s a question that is facing many cinemas, and here in the ACT we are handling it in two ways.

The first way is to start hosting film festivals. Palace Electric in NewActon is hosting, or has hosted in the past, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, the Audi Festival of German Films, the BBC First British Film Festival, Singaporean Film Festival and the Palestinian Film Festival, to name a few. Event Cinemas in Manuka has hosted the Japanese Film Festival and the Russian Resurrection Film Festival.

Cinemas have always hosted film festivals, but going to a film festival is becoming more mainstream. You no longer need to go to an art-house cinema to see independent films or world cinema. They are now available, often, at your local movie theatre.

The second way is to make cinema an experience. This is what Hoyts is doing nationwide, with the first stages being rolled out in the Belconnen and Woden theatres. Hoyts asked themselves the question: what made them different to the home theatre experience?

And the answer, in my view, was not much. The chairs at home are comfy: you can recline back as far as you like without fear of being kicked in the back. The screens are crisper, and often just as big and loud at home. You have as much legroom as you want or need. There is room and space to put down snacks and drinks.

So, why would anyone leave the house go see a movie at the cinemas these days?

The same reason why people buy from the Apple Store when they have a well-designed, effortlessly smooth online buying process. The same reason people take physical books on holidays. The same reason we go to coffee shops for coffee when everyone has a pod machine in their house.

We like the experience. We like talking to the Apple concierges; we like having a tattered book that reminds us of the holiday; we like going out with friends and drinking coffee.

Hoyts is developing an experience for movie-goers. The first stage is to include recliner seating in all its theatres. From a personal observation, it’s about 75% of the size of a Gold Class / Premium seat. The recliner seating has a small wall between the row you’re sitting in and the row behind you – to stop all that kicking nonsense, but also, to make sure no one’s head is in your way when seeing a movie. There is ample room for drinks and even a popcorn bucket sized hole in the side table.

The cinema was so new that you could smell the newly dried paint on the walls, and the seats (Australian-made) had never been used. No scuff marks on the leather; and, the green stitching is still vividly green having never had soft drink spilt on it. When you reclined all the way back, the seats squeaked as if they need a little wearing in.

From the looks of stage one (the new seating), I am very intrigued to see stage two (a candy bar upgrade) and beyond. I live no where near Hoyts Belconnen nor Hoyts Woden, but the seats alone could entice me back to movie theatres.

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Cinema in a Netflix World
wildturkeycanoe 6:21 am 28 Nov 15

Was going to take the missus to see a flick this week, but unfortunately it isn’t screened anymore [we missed it by that much], so now we have to wait till it comes out on DVD, probably another 6 months. The times they have movies on are very disappointing too.

Grrrr said :

– Go to the loo before it starts
– apart from subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, the cinema has them just the same (and some cinemas have screenings with subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.)
– I doubt your car gets foxtel
– movies showing at the cinema are unlikely to be available streaming, so no-one is going to say that back.

It isn’t easy to hold your bladder whilst drinking a giant jug of coke the size of a an engine oil sump, especially for the young uns.
Hoytts Belconnen has no, I repeat NIL screenings with subtitles at the moment. I bet if they did, it wouldn’t be at a time convenient to me.
I was shown [demonstrated] a device the other day that streams movies that haven’t even come out at the cinemas in Australia, for free even. It is definitely possible.

tuco 4:26 pm 27 Nov 15

Jill123 said :

I also like the drinks menu at Palace Electric. For some reason, having a glass of red at the cinemas seems extra classy. Having a glass of red at home just feels like a normal Tuesday night.

Describing something as “classy” is one thing. Nominating something as “extra classy” is just … noice.

batmantrilogy 1:14 pm 27 Nov 15

watching movies at a cinema gives a different experience.
We have to stick to it given the fact that we cant either pause or rewind it .
I would watch the big hits on cinemas rather than at home !

Grrrr 5:42 pm 18 Nov 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

$20 to see a movie that you can’t rewind if you miss something , that you can’t pause to go to the toilet, that doesn’t have sub-titles so you haven’t a clue what just got said and that will cost you well over $70 if you want to share with the family is a total waste of money in my opinion. For that you can hire ten movies later on when they come out on T-box or Foxtel, with the bonus of the advantages listed.
If I want my eardrums blasted to bits and to feel the bass I can sit in the car and crank the stereo.
Then again, it is perhaps a prestige thing, to be able to say “I just saw xxxxx at the movies last night, it was awesome!”. Though the other person may reply with “Yeah, streamed that last week.”

Of course there’s a bunch of good reasons why watching a movie at home can be better – but you should really try to come up with some that actually make sense.

– Pay attention
– Go to the loo before it starts
– apart from subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, the cinema has them just the same (and some cinemas have screenings with subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.)
– I doubt your car gets foxtel
– movies showing at the cinema are unlikely to be available streaming, so no-one is going to say that back.

Other cinema experiences you just can’t get at home: 70mm and IMax projections, 48FPS 3D, Dolby Atmos. I don’t think any of the Tarantino movies I’ve seen were at the cinema – just at home, but I am pretty keen on seeing Hateful Eight in 70mm.

wildturkeycanoe 7:54 am 18 Nov 15

$20 to see a movie that you can’t rewind if you miss something , that you can’t pause to go to the toilet, that doesn’t have sub-titles so you haven’t a clue what just got said and that will cost you well over $70 if you want to share with the family is a total waste of money in my opinion. For that you can hire ten movies later on when they come out on T-box or Foxtel, with the bonus of the advantages listed.
If I want my eardrums blasted to bits and to feel the bass I can sit in the car and crank the stereo.
Then again, it is perhaps a prestige thing, to be able to say “I just saw xxxxx at the movies last night, it was awesome!”. Though the other person may reply with “Yeah, streamed that last week.”

HenryBG 7:52 pm 17 Nov 15

Grrrr said :

“The screens are crisper, and often just as big and loud at home.” – Just not true.

I’d just like to concur and add to that – the last movie I saw was 2 Sundays ago at Manuka, a Russian Resurrection film called “The Territory”.
No amount of money spent on home cinema infrastructure would give you any kind of home experience that would even hint at the cinema version.
And at $11, it was well worth it.

Now, admittedly, you really don’t need to go to the cinema to improve your experience of the latest Adam Sandler flick, and the latest Adam Sandler flick *is* representative of 95% of what hits the silver screens.
Regularly, however, there is something on that makes it worth the trip. And if we stop going entirely, then movies like “The Territory” will never be experienced as they could be. Take “Gravity”, I had to have my arm twisted to go to that one, and it turned out to be breathtaking (much helped by Bullock giving the performance of her life). I bet it’s not as good on video.

Grrrr 5:15 pm 17 Nov 15

“The screens are crisper, and often just as big and loud at home.” – Just not true.

Unless you have invested heavily in home theatre, the only part of your home viewing that comes close to a cinema experience is the number of pixels on a late-model TV screen.

People rarely sit anywhere near THX reference angles for screen viewing to make the most of their TV – EG Sitting 3m or more away from a 60″ FullHD TV. (Don’t get me started on the stupidity that is UltraHD on 55-65″ TVs.) Then if someone is watching a streaming movie (EG on Netflix HD) instead of Blu-ray, they’re usually watching an inferior ~5Mbit/sec video stream instead of something 10x the quality. And how many people bother to spend even a few minutes properly calibrating brightness and contrast on their TV?

Then there’s the audio: Home listening is rarely anywhere near Reference levels. Most people just cannot play something that loud without disturbing others. It’s not just the loudness either, quality (particularly frequency response) is not even close on your average all-in-one 5.1 package with measly 8 or even 10″ sub. People rarely even go to the trouble of putting their surround speakers in the right spots – instead just sitting them where-ever they can fit in the room.

The likes of Village VMax or Hoyts Xtremescreen cinemas are a world apart from watching a movie at home.

HenryBG 4:54 pm 17 Nov 15

Today’s paper published a figure on people who use video streaming: 17% of Australians. 14% are Netflix streamers.

Rupert Murdoch saw this coming. This is why he got Tony Abbott to knacker the NBN.

palavida 8:44 am 16 Nov 15

Unless you have some serious readies, it’s near impossible to capture the true cinema experience at home.

Sure, you can have your home theatre experience via Netflix and a JB hi fi package, and I understand that there is a cost/convenience attraction with Netflix that many people prefer. But despite having a home theatre setup, I still find Netflix et al will never match the cinema experience for me.

Kalliste 6:03 pm 15 Nov 15

I can’t remember the last time I went to a cinema, years ago now. The only way they would convince me to leave the comfort of my home and go into an atmosphere with a lot of people and overpriced snacks would be to lower the prices to see movies.
I’m just not willing to spend $20 to sit in a chair (regardless of how good it is) that who knows how many other people have sat in, in a room full of people when I could do the same at home without all the people or the price.

dungfungus 7:52 am 14 Nov 15

Jill123 said :

I also like the drinks menu at Palace Electric. For some reason, having a glass of red at the cinemas seems extra classy. Having a glass of red at home just feels like a normal Tuesday night.

I like your style.

justin heywood 11:10 pm 13 Nov 15

Why go to the cinema when there is Netflix?
Why go the football when you can see the match in better detail at home? Why go to a concert when the music sounds better on a good sound system?

Because we sometimes want to lose ourselves in the things we like. In the cinema it’s easy to forget about the phone and the lawn that needs mowing. We can suspend our disbelief and live the story.

Almost any movie is better at the cinema and good movies become great movies.

Jill123 3:34 pm 13 Nov 15

I also like the drinks menu at Palace Electric. For some reason, having a glass of red at the cinemas seems extra classy. Having a glass of red at home just feels like a normal Tuesday night.

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