The evolution of cinema

Do you remember the drive-ins? Not the fast food drive-ins, I’m talking about movie drive-ins. If you’re a Generation-Z your only drive-in experience is likely from watching the movie Grease because your parents told you John T was amazing in his hey dey! If you’re a Generation-X like me, then you’ll probably remember actually experiencing a drive-in. I remember going to the drive-in with my parents and sister – my baby sister was not on the radar at the time – and it went something like this: dad drives up towards the entrance of this huuuuge lot, collects a strange-looking device and carries on into the lot to find a parking spot. That strange-looking device turns out to be a speaker which clips onto the inside of the car –  handy hey? When you look ahead you see a ginormous screen at the front of the lot and get to hear the action from that handy little speaker. Of course, you also get your parents telling you to sit still or be quiet, or both, while you’re also trying to find alternative forms of entertainment. But in essence you get to experience the glory of full colour, big screen cinema, from the comfort of your car! And of course the more comfortable your car the more comfortable your cinema experience!

Then gone were drive-ins and enter the indoor cinema experience. My parents’ generation will remember cinema houses like The Luxurama (aka “Luxie”) quite fondly. I myself have only been a couple of times before it closed its doors to cinema. Our big screen experiences are now the offerings of Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro, conveniently located in shopping malls, encouraging us to add a movie into a day of paying bills, buying groceries or grabbing a bite to eat.

It doesn’t stop there though. With technology continuously evolving, our movie-making houses and cinema houses are loathe to be left behind. The result is that we’re presented with 3D cinema, bringing life to our movie experience with a little plastic pair of shades – pretty amazing actually. Then some time passes and next time you’re at the cinema house you’re like “oh, what’s this now?” And your curiosity piques at this little exclusive looking nook at the cinema called The Scene or Cine Prestige. In the name of experience and trying something new (or maybe just out of sheer FOMO), you fork out the extra cost of the movie to sit and enjoy a 2D or 3D offering in luxury – getting to watch a movie in a less crowded space, cosily seated in a leather recliner. Added to that you have the option of buying food and hot beverages that you can consume inside the cinema!! But does it stop there? Oh no not at all. As consumers we’re always after that next best thing, that new experience, that thing that makes us part of the conversation around us… So what do we do? Well, we fork out yet an additional extra cost and check out a movie in 4DX! My husband treated me to 4DX yesterday for our movie date, and it quite an experience – moving chairs, bursts of mist, flashing lights! I tell you, when the chairs started shaking I was actually giggling at being bounced around in a chair inside a movie theatre! So how do I stack up the experience against other movie dates? Here goes (Featured On CTInsider)…

The traditional cinema

The cinema configuration we know and love, with its no-mess-no-fuss economy class type seating. The only ooh aaah factor being choosing whether you want to go 2D or 3D. Oh, and then they’ve got the Love Nest Seats as well which is quite nice – a double seat with no space or arm rest in the middle – perfect for cuddling or popping your handbag between you and your beau. I like this option as its accessible in terms of pricing, and if you’re a member of a Loyalty scheme going to the movies won’t break the bank.

The luxury cinema

Both Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor offer luxury experiences with their respective The Scene and Cine Prestige options. I’ve been to Cine Prestige a couple of times and it’s a delight – spacious seating so no need to cram between people to get to your seat (or having people cram past you to get to theirs). You have the choice to recline the leather chair to suit your mood and can even order a light meal or nice hot beverage to go along with the movie. I enjoy this setting with the huge seats – a nice treat when you feel like spending the extra money. I wouldn’t go for the food though –  with small portions at huge costs, I prefer grabbing some Simply Asia before the movie (ssshhhh… I sometimes just sneak it in to eat in the cinema!). Best thing about this option for me is the seating – nothing like a good ol’ lazy boy.

The thrill cinema

Enter 4DX, cinema that promises to get you into the action! In addition to the 3D experience, there’s motion, blasts of wind, mist, flashing lights… all to add to the movie experience. Truth be told, I felt (and as did my husband) that the motion was a bit much at times – the chairs would shake quite a bit that my hand was holding the top of my popcorn box so that it didn’t fall. And carry a jacket – stormy scenes are accompanied by blasts of really cold air! I wasn’t sold on all the flashing lights either. I did enjoy the experience – it’s one of those things you just have to try, at least once. If anything it was amazing to experience what people can add to a movie experience with a bit of imagination and evolving tech! And Thor Ragnarok was a great choice no matter what the format of the cinema. At R175 a ticket (no, you don’t get a popcorn and soda with it), it was worth the experience, but not something I’ll go for much.

As a regular option my favourite is still the traditional cinema format, and throw in the leather lazy boy now and then for that extra treat.

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