This week Village Cinemas called an end to the universally accepted rule that getting your phone out in the cinema is a Bad Thing.
Village is introducing in-seat food and drink delivery in its VPremium cinemas. Patrons can order via a mobile app.
It starts today. It’s too late to arrange a march.
VPremium screens, which are rolling out in cinemas in Southland, Jam Factory and in Hobart, are somewhere between Village’s regular and Gold Glass services. There are only 150 seats, and they’re bigger. It’s like Premium Economy. The food won’t be limited to popcorn and choc-tops, either; expect pizza, dumplings and Nutella churros.
“The app will no doubt enhance the overall movie experience,” a Village Cinemas press release says. “Patrons can now bypass queues and sit back and relax, without having to move from their seats.”
We’re all for ways to make people’s visit to the cinema more comfortable and enjoyable. But who at Village thinks having a dude next to you order hot chips on his iPhone, to arrive halfway through the movie, will result in a “premium” and “enhanced movie experience”?
When we contacted Village Cinemas for clarification its response partially soothed us – a key detail had been left out of the press release.
Mohit Bhargava, general manager of sales and marketing says Village is very aware of potential distractions. Ordering will only be possible during trailers and ads, and the app will be automatically disabled when the film starts.
“This is a result of us trying to work out how to use mobile to make things smoother for theatre-goers,” Bhargava says. “Food runners will come up and down the aisles while the feature is on, but we’ve got years of experience of that with Gold Class.”
Still, it’s a slippery slope. The movie theatre is, or at least was, one of the last phone-free spaces. And two hours in a darkened room, to immerse yourself in a film, free from distraction, doesn’t seem like a huge ask. Go for dumplings afterwards.
Smartphones mean glowing lights. Menus mean conversations. Ordering food means wait staff shuffling in and out of the theatre. Using an app means using the internet, which means incoming calls, messages, Twitter, Wikipedia-ing who that actor is – you know, the one who looks like Amy Adams. Who is she playing again? Haha. I’m not really paying attention. Hang on, let me Instagram that pavlova sundae before you start on it. Another Negroni?
VPremium at Jam Factory, Southland and Hobart will open to the public Thursday December 15.