The term cinema evokes a multitude of emotions within. The film industry in India is booming and is at an all time high. The desire for a cinematic experience among the masses, coupled with greater affordability and awareness, has led to a rising demand for cinema theatres and multiplexes within the country. The architectural planning and design of multiplexes is complex and based on numerous factors. Outlined below are the key parameters to be considered while designing a multiplex.
Being a business that thrives on direct engagement with the public, the location and accessibility play a vital role in the positioning a cinema theatre or a multiplex. Conducting a geographical and demographical study determines the estimated cost of the project, break-even points, legal issues etc.
Licenses and legal perspectives
Due to the vast area to be built and huge crowd to cater to, cinema theaters require mandatory licenses and permissions from:
a.Local government bodies (Municipal Council/ Corporation)
b.Public Works Department (PWD for Plan Approval)
c.District Authorities (Health and Fire departments)
d.State Electricity Board (for Electricity connection)
e.District Collectorate – Entertainment department
In addition to these licenses, some states have their own policies and legalities involved
The method adopted while designing multiplexes is different when compared to the design of single screen cinema halls. A standalone screen would be a simple entity that would be designed based on the overall site dimensions. However, the design of a multiplex is more complex and requires careful space planning to accommodate various amenities and services. A superior design ensures excellent air-conditioning systems, acoustic wall partitioning (to prevent audio leak between screens), access to washrooms and refreshments, and movement of crowd between show timings
Irrespective of the number of screens the golden proportion of a theatre needs to be maintained between the height to width to length – as much as possible to achieve optimum audio quality & viewing experience.
A critical aspect of a theatre design is the creation of seating level curvature which provides unobstructed views of the entire screen while seated anywhere within the hall.
Air – Conditioning
A viewer spends a good three hours seated in a cinema hall. Hence, providing comfortable seating and air-conditioning in the entire space is of utmost importance. The right placement of the air handling units and the ideal positioning of air conditioning vents significantly affects the achievement of optimum thermal comfort within the space.
Seats are broadly categorized as fixed seats, push back seats, rocker chairs, motorized recliner chairs/couches and couple seats. The seating configuration, size and type depend on the target audience of each theatre.
Technology has made a revolutionary change in screen viewing. There are ample choices to select from like Silver Screen, White Screen, 3D Screens etc. of varying screen aspect ratios, which is dependent on the size of the hall, distance from the projector room and the capacity of the projector. Choosing the right screen based on the above parameters is instrumental in enriching the viewer experience.
Satellite projection cinema technology has considerably reduced resource requirement to a minimum. There has been a tremendous change in our lifestyles over the years. Consumerism and an attitude of here and now have led to an increasing demand for quality cinema. The advancements in technology have literally translated the super-hit mantra of ‘First Day First Show’ into reality, thereby reducing the time taken for movies to hit the screens and consequently increasing the box office collections. With laser projectors being the latest addition to the array of projection systems, the visual experience is bound to get more exciting in the future.
Dolby Atmos, the latest in surround sound technology, renders a three dimensional audio experience by syncing individual speakers along the walls and ceiling of the theatre to produce a unified and rich sound with greater depth, detail and clarity. The unparalleled sound quality is a complete treat to the senses and vital for the maximum engagement of viewers.
The second major source of revenue for a multiplex comes from the cafeteria, where most of movie-goers expect quality food and beverages and quick service. Uniformed staff, clearly displayed menus with a variety of food choices and well designed packaging is a must to engage the customer in the F&B experience. There is a predetermined profit on the sale of tickets but the profit from F&B purely depends on the choice and service provided to the customer by the theatre management. Features like on seat delivery, pre-booking option, self-service kiosks and live counters enhance the customer experience, there by converting to higher revenues.
No one wants to miss the beginning of a movie due to the inconvenient parking hassle. Wide driveways, ample parking spots and clear signages are vital to any parking design. Parking is also an additional source of revenue for a movie theatre. Having designated pick up and drop points for ride sharing and taxi services support the easy flow of traffic and increase the viewership in the theatre.
Strategic planning of on-screen and off-screen advertisements is a huge bonus to a movie, generating a steady revenue stream with very minimal cost implications. Utilizing spaces of maximum movement like the lounges, parking areas and ticket booths for movie promotions help improve the ticket sales.
With the advent of online ticketing, the role of box office is diminishing. Nevertheless, touch screen and self-service kiosks along with a well-positioned box office become an integral part of the theatre infrastructure.
Often overlooked, the washroom facilities in a cinema theatre have the potential to create an impact. The numbers, sizes and access and should accurately correspond to the seat count of the cinema theatre. It is imperative to have them well ventilated and regularly maintained to create a comfortable and hygienic space for the public.
All of the above contribute to creating a well-designed cinema theatre for the masses which enhances their cinematic experience. However, it’s the thematic concept and design that makes it stand apart from its competitors. On delving deep, we often find a tale behind every theatre’s origin. A unique tale rooted in its location, ownership or legacy. It is this story that makes people fall in love not just with the movies, but also the theatre, thus etching its name in the history of cinema.