JAN 14, 2011 – In the last look-what-I-wrote-long-ago post of the day, here’s something about Escape cinemas, written before its launch.
EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, there are hues of warmth – from the brown panelling on the walls to the amber lava-lit concession counters to the yellow lights dimmed just so. There’s even a spa – a tie-up with Oryza. If the feeling is that of walking into a relaxation space, an escape, it’s intentional, says Tan Ngaronga, Chief Operating Officer, Sathyam Cinemas. “We have incorporated designs from bars, nightclubs and hotel lobbies around the world.” That’s possibly why the complex is called ESCAPE, and that’s the only two-syllable word you’ll find here.
Everything else is monosyllabic. The smoking lounge (yes, for the itchy-fingered among you, there’s a smoking lounge that refilters your fumes without annoying others) is called PUFF. The 60-seater restaurant area (serving continental, oriental and Indian food) is named DINE. The space set aside for promotional activity is called LIVE. The automated ticketing machines are called TOUCH. The retail space, which will soon be selling nifty gadgets like iPods and international magazines, is named STUFF.
The Mac-equipped browsing centre is called CLICK. And the eight theatres – 110-320 seaters – are named after their interior designs. Thus, CARVE features temple carvings inside the hall. KITES has, well, kites on the walls. And PLUSH, the biggest hall, has walls plushly upholstered with what looks like a brocade-velvet combination, with gold embossing. The theatres are equipped with QSC four-way speakers and Christie’s hot-off-the-production-line Solaria 2K digital projectors, upgradable to 4K.
With yellow onyx from Verona, a smoking lounge from Germany, Glass furniture from Italy, seats made in China, and a designer from the US, ESCAPE attempts to deliver an international experience. Even the toilets are digital, and Ngaronga (rightly) envisions a “training period” before people get accustomed to them. The coolest aspect, however, are the projection units stationed up above the theatres, thus simultaneously utilising ceiling space and eliminating the need for a projection booth. The romantic in you may sigh that we’ve moved into a world where a Cinema Paradiso is an anomaly, but at least, the cinema experience promises to be paradise.