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Douglas Place on Ster-Kinekor's Cine Prestige

We had a chance to chat to Ster-Kinekor Marketing Manager, Douglas Place, about Cine Prestige, a business class movie experience, which is being rolled out around the country.

How is Cine Prestige different from a normal movie-going experience?

I think what's important is that if you're going to have a brand promise of "Greatest Moments at their Greatest", you can't have mediocre moments at their cheapest. This is the Ster-Kinekor interpretation of a trend, which is happening worldwide. We piloted the first Cine Prestige in April 2012 in Johannesburg.

What makes it popular and different is this is effectively the business class version of cinema, an elite cinema-going experience  with a dedicated foyer area where you can buy your standard Coke and popcorn if that's what you're after but you also have the opportunity to buy gourmet foods off a specialist menu, which is served to you by waiters either in the film or the foyer. So it's a completely separate pre-film experience and during film experience as well.

Cine Prestige Cavendish

The auditorium is spacious, you don't have the challenge of squeezing past people to get to your seats. It's a far more intimate environment without sacrificing the scale of the cinema experience. It's a state-of-the-art facility so it's got the very best in projection technology, digital audio surround sound, the latest silver screen technology... so really good 2D and 3D presentation. It's the best of the best of the best from an audio-visual point-of-view.

The fully leather reclining armchairs are custom designed only for Ster-Kinekor and we effectively took a manual model in 2012 and made it fully electronic so you can see the display board on your armchair here, which takes you to full reclining mode. We had to measure that carefully to make sure your sight lines aren't obstructed or you're peering over your toes at the screen.

My favourite feature is the 'cool' feature, which keeps your drink cool throughout the film. So when you're coming to watch Peter Jackson's film, The Hobbit or other such 3 hour epics you don't have a lukewarm Coke as the film progresses.

The cinema is already 40% sold out for Friday and Saturday and Capetonians haven't even seen what the film is yet. These cinemas tend to book out way in advance, so they're not the kind of things you buy at box office. You can, but often there aren't seats available, so they tend to be bought online or via the Ster-Kinekor app.

You mentioned the model, is this the second one or are they actually quite a few of these out there?

We opened in The Zone in Rosebank in 2012, we've since opened in Sandton City, Gateway, in Krugersdorp and Cradlestone. When we open new cinemas, we design them with this space in mind because it needs a dedicated kitchen and foyer. It's easier when we have new builds... like Cradlestone and The Grove in Pretoria, which have been easier to do. This is a retro-fitted model for Cavendish, that's why its taken so long to bring this to Cape Town... to work out all the architectural challenges. We didn't want to dilute what the experience is and not have a foyer or as many of these kind of seats as we could possibly have.

Cine Prestige Cavendish

We understand there are more ways of seeing movies than ever before, which are getting more convenient and cheaper. We're in the business of competing with cheap and convenient. This is the best and first place to see a film and that's going to be true for the foreseeable future.

Are there plans to expand this concept throughout the Western Cape?

I'd be very surprised if this didn't take off from what we've seen everywhere from Johannesburg to Durban. I know Capetonians are different and have peculiar tastes, but I don't think this is going to be one of the things that is going to be particularly alienating. We're definitely looking at other sites to do it. The challenge isn't the business model, it's architecture, where do you find the space to do this properly.

Are you targetting any specific movies for Cine Prestige?

We tend to show the major release of the week. I think initially people had assumed this is for an older consumer, a more sophisticated moviegoer and that we'd show more art house or Cinema Nouveau type content here and that hasn't been the case at all. This is for you, even if you're a 16-year-old boy and want to impress a girl on a first date. This will screen The Hunger Games and the Oscar films, so it does tend to mirror the major release houses. We don't oblige people to see it in one format, so when Horrible Bosses 2 opens you can see it in standard 2D next door or you can come see it in Cine Prestige. Thanks to digital projection, we can now date programmes, so we can have The Boxtrolls in the morning and The Hobbit in the evening.