Anyone more than casually reading this blog will know what big cinema fans we are at FR towers. Seeing the industry we love facing such exceptionally challenging business environments is hard for us.
So we have enjoyed seeing some positive developments this month – especially that Christopher Nolan’s summer tentpole release Tenet now has a confirmed UK release date (in drive-ins and cinemas too). But also that picture houses around the country are being fed with a fresh new releases. Also, we’ve been able to help a bit too, having supported an amazing new concept which could be a look ahead at the ‘future of cinema’ (not our words, but they popped up regularly).
Working with the French architects behind the stunning new Ōma cinema design concept, we spotted immediately that not only is this a breathtaking approach to auditorium design, but it is also perfected suited to deal with the social distancing challenges facing many cinemas.
Typical banked seating rows are making it very difficult for many cinemas to run their screens at anything more than about 30% capacity, while the lack of new releases also means many which have decided to open are screening recent hits for a second time alongside classic favourites.
The ‘pod’ concept of the Ōma, which has captured the attention of movie lovers around the world, not only offers a premium approach with flexible seating concepts possible on each different balcony, but it inherently separates audiences from each other while allowing cinemas to maintain a good capacity of seating.
After working with the Ōma cinema to share an exclusive first look at the design with the Daily Mail’s This is Money section, we knew the design would appeal to cinema fans around the world. We’ve been blown away by just how much – in just a few weeks, mentions and shares of the ‘Star Wars’-esque design have gone truly global, with a reach of nearly 2 billion people – meaning 1 in 3 of you reading this have probably already seen it. In the comments on Reddit, Twitter and plenty of other social channels there were certainly a lot of cinema lovers offering to book plane tickets to Paris right now, to visit a cinema that’s still under construction.
Cinema is facing a lot and trying to adapt quickly. Innovations like the Ōma and nostalgic favourites finding new leases of life like the drive-in, are reconnecting with audiences with the joy of the silver screen experience.
But, it’s also facing new threats – shortening release windows in the USA, the rise of streaming (even if most streaming services don’t directly challenge the big screen, films going to streaming first is a new weapon in the fight), not to mention the scores of screens around the country who have had to survive months with no revenue and no product.
We believe wholeheartedly in the cinema. We think there will always be a place for it. Even if its role has to evolve to meet the new world we all face.