COVID: The Experience

Word comes to us from M.G. Siegler of one cinema's … gutsy… approach to what we hope is the beginning of the end of the pandemic:

Taking cues from amusement-park rides, blocks of seats have motion effects that pitch, twist, vibrate, and roll in coordination with action happening on screen. And, there are “atmospherics” that include bursts of air and squirts of water on your face, to go along with the movie action, and scent effects that drift out of the seats into the theater as well. Also: fog and bubble machines that fill up the auditorium, and actual snow and rainstorm effects, when needed.

I mean… what the literal fuck? In much of the U.S. we’re just now leaving a world ravaged by a pandemic. A pandemic which has absolutely destroyed movie theaters. A pandemic which has taught us all to be wary of our activity indoors, especially where people might be vocal. And Regal’s move here is to open an amusement park-style movie theater. With moving seats and bursts of air and squirts of water aimed at your vulnerable face. The first screening may as well be titled: ‘COVID: The Experience’.

I have a sneaking feeling that the truth of this will turn out to be that the plan to revamp the seating in this cinema was in place well before the pandemic came along and management have insisted on seeing if customers will go for it, rather than undo what was already budgeted for - and possibly even partly done - without even giving it a try.

The local management very likely have already drawn up their plan for the next step, when they have to go back to senior management and report that sales on that screen were so low that the initial plan to roll out these seats more widely will have to be scrapped: can't argue with those dismal numbers. Good idea, terrible timing beyond the control of the local management. What can you do?