Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some amazing experiences at the ODEON in Worcester, my local cinema. The first of these was on Friday 24th Feb 2017, I decided to make visit to the cinema, to see the new release ‘Sing’ by one of my favourite movie production companies; Illumination Entertainment. This ODEON is the cinema my parents used to bring me to when I was younger, although I’ve been elsewhere for the past 8 years or so, I returned but as a student. And absolutely nothing had changed, the whole interior, the same carpets, layout and even the smell. All the memories came flooding back. This cinema I love for this reason. Its got a loveable retro style and it reminds me of classic cinema, it doesn’t try to be something its not with shiny surfaces and pretentious ticket prices and I hope it never changes…
*All opinions are of my own and ODEON have not paid me to write this*
After being in contact with ODEON in Worcester, Owain (Oz) later offered me a private screening of Patriots Day, an incredibly powerful film about the Boston Marathon bombing, free of charge as the times I wanted to see it didn’t fit in with my mock exams. So on Tuesday 28th I went in to see this in Screen 7, the second largest, before the cinema opened to the general public. Oz offered food and beverage free of charge also (He’s so great!). He also gave me a movie poster of the film following it. Oz is such a credit to the company, he’s so friendly and accommodating and he goes out of his way to make people happy, and I have only the highest praise for him.
During the time in-between, I also went and saw Get Out, another thrilling film, directed by Jordan Peele. Alongside I also was allowed to enter a Silver Screening of I, Daniel Blake at the ODEON, which is basically special screenings for the older generation at £3 (Varies by location), and this includes free tea, coffee, and biscuits. It’s a very different, yet somewhat enjoyable experience.
But today, Saturday 25th of March, really is the cherry on-top! First off ODEON allowed me into a kid’s screening of Moana, a very enjoyable animation (£1 a ticket on Weekend Mornings, and School Holidays), and this is in contrast to VUE who denied me entry a few weeks before as I wasn’t young enough? Then after the movie was over, Oz gave me a private, behind the scenes tour of the cinema in such great detail and I was blown away by how things work, and that’s what I’m going to detail to you guys now.
*Note – I also visited the cinema on Tuesday morning to take some more photos where Leo gave some further detail into how things work, and I would like to personally thank him for the time he took out his morning to do this!*
BEHIND THE SCENES:
Who organises film timings and screen allocation?
Well, this is actually controlled for all ODEON Cinema’s centrally rather than the cinema itself. They look at future releases and use market research to estimate demand. For example ODEON believe that demand will be large enough in Worcester for there to be 4 screens showing Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 at 00:01 on the 28th April. Cinema branches have little flexibility in this, however they can of course arrange to add in extra showings of alternative films when the screens are available, for example for Private Hire. All this information is fed directly into the Rosetta Bridge system (Behind Screen 4 in this ODEON) which controls scheduling for the cinema and to ensure all digital files are in place. As a result all films can be interchanged between screens, although for ease, they do like to keep a certain films in set screens for a week.
Are film reels still used?
Not really anywhere these days. Some cinemas still have 35mm projectors but films have moved to digital technology, which used to arrive on hard-drives, however more common now is for films to arrive via Satellite on the roof. Digital technology has improved reliability and speed. Film reels used to be incredibly large and bulky (As shown below), and now with all systems synchronised, it’s much more difficult for any errors to be made. A standard digital projector will cost around £50,000. I have also put below a comparison of the projectors in the ODEON Worcester, from then and now. Yes, it really is the same room and flooring! Not much has changed, there’s even marks from where you can see where the old equipment was. Even better, with digital technology you can even hook up a games console to the cinema projectors, and these guys sure have!
(Comparison between former Projectors and Current)
(Film reels: Scroll over images for information)
How are the adverts chosen?
As part of the system on the individual projectors, there is a sequence for which adverts should be played, alongside other promotional/company information. Most of the trailers and ad’s come via satellite and can be totally different for one showing than another. If they did it any other way, and they came with the movie, many would be outdated a few weeks into screening.
(Part of the pre-show sequence as shown above)
What makes ODEON different to VUE (Or any other cinema chain)?
ODEON is unique. Especially in the Worcester Location, this one has been going for around 67 years now, and it’s certainly quirky. It’s been through many changes over it’s time, from the time when it was one, theatre like screen, to seven separate ones, but this gives them flexibility. ODEON also provides better prices all-round, along with special priced screenings for seniors and kids alongside autism friendly showings, they try to cater for the whole community. In terms of quality, people tend to have the misconception that VUE is more modern, and therefore more advanced in technology. This is incorrect, while the sound systems are pretty similar, VUE advertises Sony 4k projectors and ODEON does not. It’s not because ODEON can’t handle 4k technology, they can, it’s just that they’re honest by not advertising it. I have seen with my own eyes the quality format which many movies arrive in the system, and they’re 2k. It’s very rare to find 4k movies around, so the projection quality is the same at both VUE and ODEON. More so, ODEON appeals to a specific type of audience, and these customers tend to enjoy the whole experience and many customers, especially the Older generations have been loyal to the chain for years. I quote one customer I spoke to in my senior screening “The VUE is faceless. ODEON has character.”
However the one thing that makes ODEON different to other chains is the staff. They are incredibly friendly and enthusiastic about what they do. While I don’t know all of them, and I’m sure they’re all great, there are a few that really stand out to me: Owain (Oz), Leo, Jimmy & Matt. They’re all efficient and seem like they enjoy their job a lot!
What’s the best part of the job?
The customers. Making people happy is such a great thing to do, and Oz and Leo really do take this quality on-board as passionate Guest Experience Supervisors.
What is the cinema’s busiest times?
Weekends, and especially mornings (Even more so during the school holidays). This is when Kid’s showing are on, and they’re very popular. Friday and Saturday evenings are also popular, and also Wednesday evening, due to the Meerkat Movies promotion. Quieter times are usually during the week in the daytime, this is the best time to come, for the closest experience to a private screening.
Is ODEON Worcester in the process of upgrading seating?
Currently, Screen 4 & 7 have been refurbished with newer seating, which I personally admit is more comfortable. The Cinema chain is currently in a process of deciding what happens to the development of the cinema, and this will be sorted within the upcoming weeks. In my opinion, I have no issues with the cinema seating, and it wouldn’t bother me all that much if it didn’t change.
Why is the lighting so dim pre-show?
This lighting hasn’t been used during the pre-show as the lighting upon the pre-show ODEON ident shown in the video above may interfere with what’s on the screen.
How do you deal with disruptive guests?
Usually, there is no trouble, especially at the ODEON in Worcester, it’s been a long time since they’ve had to pause a film to deal with one, however if there is an issue, guests are advised to speak to a member of staff if possible. Despite this I must stress the rarity of this occurring. If someone is on their phone, once the film has started, the best step is to politely ask them to put it away as even the most dim light can be distracting.
What is ODEON limitless?
This is a scheme which allows you to be able to see all the films you want, week in, week out. With huge potential savings and access to exclusive member treats, joining Limitless means you can watch all the films you want as often as you like for one monthly fee. This starts from £17.99 per month.
If there’s anything more you’d like to know, drop me a message and I’ll get round to asking them.
I’d like to personally thank Oz and Leo for the behind the scenes look at the ODEON in Worcester so both myself and the readers understand the systems that make the cinema run so well! So many great experiences here, and I hope to extend these into my future visits to the cinema.