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The Dendy Cinema in the Canberra Centre – Review

johnboy 15 December 2006 2

Well we’re still waiting to hear back from the management of the new cinema in the Canberra Centre about proper media access but that doesn’t stop us buying a ticket and going to have a look.

The “Dendy Premium Lounge” won’t be open until next week so we took in the view from the cheap seats and were mostly impressed.

Having worked in cinemas in the UK and here in Australia I was pleased to see they’ve got a proper box office even if they still make the customers queue for individual ticket sellers. Personally I much prefer having the punters in a zig-zag going to a pool of ticket sellers, that way no-one regrets being stuck with the “slow seller” and there’s more time to deal with difficult customer service situations without dragging a whole line to a complete halt, it also takes the pressure off answering the phone.

The decor is very cool. Like a five star hotel from the 1970’s it feels a bit like the set of a Bond movie. It was very quiet for a Friday night, possibly everyone thought it would be a madhouse on the opening weekend.

In the individual screen (we were in number 5) there was a moderately annoying flicker in the house lights, but nothing too disconcerting. The seats are very wide and very comfortable and the leg room is pretty good. The screen is also well sized and the sound was excellent.

The projection was a little rusty at the start of the program, and tellingly they don’t seem to have sold any advertising yet. There was no self promotion or demands that we frequent the candy bar. Once the feature started everything was in order and I didn’t have to go out and tell the staff to shout at the projectionist as I all too often do elsewhere.

Temperature was perfect, there were no transient sounds, and with the seats very comfortable it was as good as a cinema viewing experience gets. It’s very much a theatre for grown ups with no usher wandering through the film to push impotently against the fire doors.

The selection of films is extremely art-house at the moment. Hell I almost wish they’d put a couple more blockbusters on just so I can go see them there instead of schlepping out to movie hell at Belconnen (Don’t get me started about Greater Union).

Having said that…

Trim was falling off the door as we left, easily fixed and to be expected in a new house still smelling like a car with nothing but goose eggs on the clock, but still unfortunate. In the bathrooms they’ve neglected to install soap dispensers and are getting by with store bought push bottles of soap. The paper towel dispenser was clean empty so we were lining up to use the hand dryer. Nothing terrible but a testament to how new the place is.

The toilets do seem to be a bit light on. Only 8 cubicles in the ladies (I am reliably informed) is going to get very tight on a busy night, and the mens only had a handful of urinals and two cubicles. Given the absence of soap dispensers I’m not entirely sure we can trust the architect to have clearly understood what is required. If something horrible happens to a few cubicles (and something invariably does) people are going to start getting bad tempered on a busy night.

Also the posters bugged me. The main presentation area wasn’t back-lit, which is terrible as most movie posters are made for it. Even worse the posters were pinned up with brass headed tacks to make it incredibly obvious. This is what greets customers at the top of the stairs! Black enamel heads for the tacks would make all the difference, a real poster display box would make even more.

Finally the candy bar looked unfinished and hadn’t made fresh popcorn for the 6.30 walk in, so there was nothing dragging customers towards it.

The best cinema in town is normally the newest. This is a very good cinema in any event, with a very stylish fitout that will only improve as they knock off the rough edges.

Now we just have to see if the premium lounge is as good as they say.

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2 Responses to The Dendy Cinema in the Canberra Centre – Review
johnboy johnboy 7:09 pm 17 Dec 06

Agreed, the beverage holders were cool.

It’s a shame cinema management are increasingly appearing to be hostile to RiotACT.

Still waiting for even an acknowledgment of our emails.

(thanks to electric shadows management for the correct addresses)

Tempestas Tempestas 1:05 pm 17 Dec 06

I too checked out the Dendy on Friday night.

I’d concur with most of the above, with the addition of the seats were wide, supportive and comfortable, the use of wood for the cupholder surrounds was a touch of classiness and being able to fold the alternate armrest up will make a cosy and comfortable space for couples. The heavy use of dark browns in the interior colour scheme is probably a bit much but works to give that solid understated feel.

My only real complaint was having arrived early and bought my popcorn there was no real space to wait, the chairs didn’t really support the idea of a waiting for the movie to start space so I ended up going into the cinema which was playing a good mix of slightly indi/alternative music, lets you know you are not at a megaplex. The cinema I was in was smallish but well laid out and I suspect apart from the front row all the seats will be reasonable.

It reminds me of the Dendy Quay but no bar as of yet, that will hopefully be coming with a more patron friendly waiting area. Also being able to walk out of the food court down the stairs to Bunda St added to that sense of Sydneyesque that the Canberra Centre “North Quarter” seems to have done so well.

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