Cineworld Cinema, Broughton, Flintshire.

Cineworld Cinema, Broughton.

Chester Road,

Broughton, Flintshire. CH4 0DE

 

Owners:  Cineworld Group plc.

Architects:  McFarlane Latter.

Fit out by:  G.F. Holdings, Ltd.

Number of screens:  11 including an IMAX screen.

4DX capability. 

Original projectors:  Barco DP2K19b and DP2K23b 1.2 DLP chip.

Original sound:  QSC ISA750 & ISA 1350 amplifiers. QSC speakers in all screens.

Total seating capacity:  1688.

Seating contractors:  Lino Sonego.

Opened on:  8th May 2015.

First film shown – Gala Opening: “Tomorrowland”, starring George Clooney.

First General Manager:  Michelle McClean.

 

 
 

The Opening Review~ A DIGITAL SPECTACULAR!!

Cineworld’s new 11 screen cinema at Broughton

BROUGHTON IN NORTH WALES, birthplace of aviation classics such as De Havilland’s Comet and now Airbus A380 wing assemblies, has a new name on its skyline — Cineworld. Peter Davies reports on the opening of the 11 screen complex at Broughton Shopping Park, one of the busiest retail parks in the UK’s North West — and home to the first IMAX screen in Flintshire.

Living only a few minutes from this new cinema, I took great interest in its 15-month construction. I was eager to cover the opening event of this fine development. The cinema takes prime position as you enter the park. Clever planners have used this position to full advantage, having an extremely high entrance, glazed from ceiling to floor. From a distance as you approach, the huge, dazzling foyer screens can be clearly seen. The excitement begins even before you leave your car.

Once you open the doors, you are met with an amazing, vibrant foyer. Describing the atmosphere as having the “wow factor” doesn’t do it justice. Here we have a large, digitally futuristic, tasteful, well-arranged entrance foyer. Artful use of black quartz mirror flecked floor tiles creates a reflected version of all the stunning static and moving imagery that wraps around you.

A huge, illuminated Cineworld star is suspended, dominating high overhead. Additional LED strips run up the height of the walls and ceiling, and are linked into the colour changes that take place on the main giant screen sited above the ticket check area. All the retail points of sale, serving tickets, drinks and confectionery have diffused lighting which change smoothly through a wide colour spectrum. Surprisingly for me, I was in no hurry to move through to projection as I stood watching how well the layout coped with a busy intake of cinema-goers. All were mesmerised by the foyer’s impact. The customers’ intense interest was evident at the large foyer’s screens, showing trailers and retail adverts. Moving through to the inner foyers, here too no expense had been spared — deep pile carpet, subtly lit ceiling features and illuminated low level floor feature lighting together with well-signed colour-changing screen entrances enhanced these plush areas.

Meeting the team

The general manager, Michelle McClean, who had been GM at the nearby Cineworld Chester, is a firm believer in keeping customer loyalty alive. She was pleased with the huge amount of new interest her team has managed to create and acquire through on and off-site publicity and social media interaction. One element that stood apart was her sheer determination to welcome past customers from the now-demolished Chester Cineworld site only a couple of miles away, particularly as there has been a considerable dormant period between that site closing in October 2013, and the new opening.

Kiril Enikov, Cineworld’s head of technical UK, took us into the projection suite. These were tidy and uncluttered, with plenty of room for engineers to service, and — significantly — a far less daunting environment for new team members to learn the technical side of things. At the Broughton site, five projection rooms serve 11 screens. Two rooms accommodate four projectors in each, the remaining three having one projector. Projection operation is now in the local management’s domain and clearly designed around the fact that there is now little need to have one main projection gallery.

Kiril pointed out that the company is particular regarding sight lines. There’s little need for child booster seats here thanks to raked stadium seating that gives everyone an uninterrupted view of the screen. The fact that Cineworld engineers carried out the installation impressed me — a high standard of fit had been achieved. All the screens are of generous wall-to-wall proportions which don’t overwhelm the size of each auditorium; there are curved frames in several screens and Barco DP2K19b and DP2K23b 1.2 DLP chip projectors had been selected. We saw high resolution and bright, even illumination, no matter what screen we glanced at. Sitting in the comfortable seats in several of the auditoria led me to ask about the seating itself — it is supplied by Lino Sonego, an Italian company that specialises in cinema and stadium solutions.

Too soon for lasers?

Speaking with Kiril was enlightening— he explained that, in his view, it is too early to talk about the mass roll-out of laser projection. There are still many years left in existing machines, which are covered by warranty (some are covered until 2022) and it would not make sense to start the transition early. For future new builds, of course, Cineworld will be looking into the options, but it is early days and cost of the kit is a major factor. Until the price drops to a level comparable with xenon lamp usage, Cineworld is unlikely to be installing laser projectors throughout its chain. Kiril suggested that in a couple of years they will start seeing bigger auditoria equipped with laser projectors, but, again, due to cost it probably will be only in the PLF (premium large format) screens. Well-versed in both efficiency and budget control, he explained that the expectation is of a 3,000 hour working life from each lamp. This is achieved through the installation of lamps best suited to each model of projector. At Broughton, a range of lamps, varying between 2K, 3K, and 4K are used, with 6.5K in each of the Imax projectors.

Servers & Sound~

Servers and sound to satisfy Doremi IMS1000 servers are installed for each projector, a wise decision as they are renowned for their reliability. The sound processors are Dolby CP750, another solid choice not only for reliability, but also for the compatibility of control and monitoring with other equipment. QSC ISA750 & ISA 1350 amplifiers are favoured in all screens together with QSC speakers, making a perfect match. Kiril is more than satisfied with the sound installation, particularly the higher frequency performance that has been achieved. I had the impression that he has trialled different combinations of sound equipment in the past, and clearly believes that this system will satisfy even the most discerning customer’s ear. I was impressed with the detailed technical information Kiril has — the scale of new site openings this year and next, and the immense amount of forward planning to get all the technical detail so perfectly together at each new development is a credit to him and his department. For Event Cinema presentations via satellite, Cineworld has LANsat on Intelsat 10-02 and can use Astra at Broughton. Internally, it can distribute feeds to each enabled screen via IPTV which allows different content to be shown on each screen.

IMAX and the Theatre Management System (TMS).

The IMAX suite, complete with a metal floor, is set up to avoid any movement to its finely aligned dual projectors. These have 13kW of lamp power between them, projecting the image with unbelievable accuracy onto the massive screen. Nevertheless, a continuous automatic checking system ensures that even the slightest drift is adjusted. All looked impressive, but I was set to watch a feature in this auditorium later.

Moving along to a separate control room, to the heart of the projection operation, here the Theatre Management System (TMS) is sited. The Screenwriter system has a huge library bank with plenty of scope for additional storage. The remote Network Operations Centre at present is managed and monitored by Arts Alliance Media. All necessary additional switching equipment and ancillaries, are contained within the same large racks. Kiril talked us through the basics of the system, which could be quickly absorbed — the system is certainly user friendly. Broughton uses Screenwriter to good effect. With hard-wired stations elsewhere in the building, Kiril explained that the TMS system started as a tool to move content and create playlists to each screen from one central location. Now, a few years later, it has evolved into a more complex system which generates hundreds of individual playlists a week, automatically unlocks features, assigns adverts and trailers and monitors the status of the equipment in the projection rooms. There are also tools to control lighting, masking, servers and projectors and to pull logs for auditing purposes. Cineworld no longer has to assign adverts and build individual playlists — the TMS does everything automatically in minutes. This allows the staff to customise each individual show and also to manipulate the playlists from one central location by adding, removing or replacing content remotely. This is done without affecting the cinema’s day-to-day running or adding extra stress to the staff.

Going remote

Kiril explained that the next stage will be to make all this available on mobile devices so that staff can be freed up on site even further to spend more time dealing with customers directly. When Cineworld converted to digital a few years ago, it didn’t simply replace 35mm projectors with digital equipment, but a system was created that allowed for the automation of the process of scheduling and showing films. It also enabled staff on site to access this system from any PC in the building. When the conversion to digital was completed three years ago, Kiril started looking at how to improve the system further to enable every staff member to be able to operate, control and monitor equipment remotely, direct from the floor. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, this is now easily achieved. In the next 12 months, Cineworld plans to start working towards enabling the staff to interact from the floor with kit upstairs, allowing for far quicker resolution of problems, even from inside the auditorium.

Modern marketing

Before the opening ceremony, I had an opportunity to speak with Cineworld’s vice president of marketing, Justin Skinner. His enthusiastic approach to all aspects of customer service reflects the fact that cinemagoers now engage across all social media. Michelle’s team has clearly embraced this, constantly updating the progress of the development on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging discussion with the potential audience. Justin recognises that competition now comes from many forms of entertainment — Cineworld is capturing a large share of the market through fine cinemas such as that in Broughton. Everything has to be attractive: foyers, retail service, cinemas with comfortable seats throughout, wall-to-wall screens, and plenty of free parking. The offering has to include satellite event cinema, 3D in appropriate screens, and, of course, big screen entertainment with the best equipment available throughout, as reflected in the fact that Broughton’s is the first IMAX screen in Flintshire. This allows showing of blockbusters meant for IMAX, like Gravity and Interstellar. Justin smiled as he stated Cineworld’s confidence for the future. Its commitment is self-evident, with a tremendous surge in opening new sites and refurbishments. cutting the ribbon. Taking our seats in the luxurious IMAX screen, we listened to the brief speeches

Behind the screens~

While the customer experience at Broughton is a dramatic one, in the projection rooms, the atmosphere is one of calm, clinical efficiency. A model of clean efficiency — the five projection rooms are uncluttered and undaunting for new staff to navigate.

Shaun Jones, who comes from the area and has previously managed cinemas in North Wales, as well as Clwyd Theatre Cymru which is local to this area. Very much on home territory, he thanked members of the invited audience who helped secure the planning for the cinema, and assisted with his promise to deliver a cinema of this quality to the local authority. IMAX’s David King then spoke of his close association with Cineworld, stating that this is now the 16th of their screens that has been installed for Cineworld, incredibly all within a three-year period. Finally, Justin Skinner, assisted by the general manager, Michelle McClean, cut the symbolic film ribbon.

The show began with a range of IMAX introductory images, then the feature “Tomorrowland”. The sound was set exactly right, and brought in the effects at what I would determine as the correct levels. As I walked away from this superb cinema, after a thoroughly enjoyable evening, I thought back to a conversation I had with my late father in 1961, when he was determined to sway me from working in cinema exhibition. “There is absolutely no future in cinemas,” he had sighed. Oh dear, how wrong did my Dad get it!

With thanks and best wishes to Michelle McClean and her team for a bright future

 

Peter Davies © chestercinemas.co.uk

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