While most cinemas have only just reopened this week, following the easing of lockdown around the UK, things could all be very different for movie-goers in the near future.
In fact, architect Pierre Chican, is set to revolutionise the way we watch films, thanks to his bold new designs.
Instead of the standard rows of seats, Oma Cinema has a selection of booths, all completely separate from each other, and placed at different slopes – giving film fans the perfect view, as well as a way of social distancing.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, co-founder Nicholas Chican revealed the designs have been two years in the making, with the first Oma Cinema set to open in Paris next year.
The pictures may look like you’ve been plonked down in the middle of Star Wars, but he told us they gained inspiration from something completely different.
‘The inspiration came from the older, Italian theatre, with the balconies, and the opera houses,’ he said. ‘We wanted to make a link between the older opera houses, with the architecture, and the traditional theatre, within like a futuristic movie theatre. The idea was to bring something different, we wanted to bring the audience closer to the screen.
‘We couldn’t do that without increasing the slope of the movie theatre. But as you have rows of seats, you cannot increase the slope higher than 25 degrees.
‘So we decided to divide the room into several pods in order to increase the slope between 50 and 60%, so we could bring the audience closer to the screen.’
And there’s good news for all the shorter movie-goers in the audience – gone are the days you have to crane your neck to see over someone taller in the seat in front.
The slopes have been designed in such a way that this will mostly be a thing of the past.
‘In each pod you have a maximum of three rows of seats,’ Nicholas continued. ‘So you are reducing the risk that you cannot see the movie due to somebody being taller than you, that’s one part.
‘The other part is that we also wanted to bring in intimacy. That is why we do have a limited number of seats for each pod. We have a maximum of 18 seats per pod.
‘There is one unique access for each pod at the back of the cinema. So, you will have the feeling of intimacy, like a homemade experience, but at the same time it’s spectacular because you will have a big screen.’
The creators remained coy over how much money it will cost to bring their vision to life, and are offering a patent for the design to cinema operators, so all ticket pricing is at the discretion of all individual operators.
But he suggested that some pods could some with premium advantages including VIP and table service, while also having some more ‘economic’ booths with added seats in the very same room, so that Oma is accessible to all.
Architect Pierre has been working on specialising the restoration of movie theatres for around six years, and Nicholas believes that, although his designs might seem futuristic now – and reminiscent of scenes from Revenge of the Sith, let’s be honest – they will spark the change of cinemas altogether.
And they’ve already had ‘a lot of interest’ from cinema operators.
‘Most cinema operators, when we presented the concept, they said that we’ve finally found the solution to combine an intimate – and at the same time spectacular – cinema experience,’ he said. ‘A lot of the cinemas that are offering these experiences are small, with a small screen.
‘With the Oma cinema you can have a really intimate experience in these pods, at the same time as having a big screen. It’s different from what is offered right now in the movie theatre landscape.
‘I would say that… There is a company, I think it’s Samsung, they’re promoting LED screens, like a TV screen in a cinema theatre. So you won’t have the projector anymore. With the LED screen, you will not have these limitations. You will be able to increase the slope, and you will be able to design more vertical movie theatres.
‘The future of movie theatres, and the design, will be more vertical.’
But while he sees all cinemas changing in the future, he doesn’t want the Oma design to be replicated by every single chain.
‘Not at all. We don’t want to replace all the movie theatres with an Oma experience,’ he insisted. ‘I think it’s more like a premium experience. Like IMAX is a premium experience, 4D, Dolby cinema also. We see Oma cinema as a completely different experience that can be unique in a multiplex.
‘It’s another kind of experience that can combine it all.
’It’s really tough times for the cinema industry, but this may show that we have to innovate to bring the spectators, and to encourage people to come back to movie theatres.’
Nicholas and Pierre have already started constructing their venue in Paris, and – despite having to down tools briefly thanks to coronavirus – are hoping to pick things back up in September, ahead of a 2021 opening.
Although they designed the cinema two years ago, before the pandemic had affected millions around the world, the co-founder is pleased that his designs are already suitable with social distancing regulations.
There is a unique access for each pod, and you can rent the entire thing, making it safer amid the global health scare.
Count us in.
Oma will not opening for another few months at leat, but Nicholas already has an idea in mind for the film he wants to show first on the big screen.
‘I would love Avatar, but I heard it has been postponed for a year,’ he added. ‘I would love to see a movie like Avatar.’
Well, hopefully Avatar is released in time for the grand opening.
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