The modern multiplex adds nothing to the experience of going to see a film. A whiff of popcorn and the sight of a garish display of nasty snacks and sweets is followed by what seems like hours of ads and trailers until finally, in an uncomfortable seat, we get to the object of the visit.
So it was a huge joy to find something quite different. In a very small town called Hawkhurst, twenty miles from where I live, there is a building that looks from outside like an old school, and only some very discreet signs tell you that inside is Kino, the UK’s first entirely digital cinema. To be told that “its state-of-the art technology features a Christie 2K projector and a Dynaudio sound system” and that its “digital content is supplied by the world's first digital networks, the UKFC's DSN [digital screen network] and Brazil's Rain Network” means nothing to me. Brazil?
Digital-shmigital; but what did mean a great deal to me is that after a glass of red wine in the cinema café we watched the film, and nothing but the film, in extraordinarily comfortable seats. And digital programming means that they can have a sort of repertory, showing up to six different films every day, which include the latest movie releases, Hollywood classics and art-house classics. This means that virtually every week something I want to see will be showing several times, on different days at different hours.
There is a second Kino in another small town, Sevenoaks, not far away. Digital cinemas are rapidly spreading in the US, and the UK is home to Europe's first fully digital multiplex cinemas: a couple of digital Odeons opened last February with a total of 18 digital screens. But I bet they’re not nearly as nice as the two little single-screen ones we’ve got in rural Kent.