Plans to win back family audiences into British cinemas are being revamped after trials in six multi-screens ended in mass brawls. The Odeon cinema chain’s bold ‘Just Like Home’ initiative saw the introduction of family-friendly areas, with adjoining seats equipped with microwave ovens, kettles and a fridge full of ready-meals and snacks.
But senior executives admit that ‘pause’ and ‘rewind’ buttons fitted into all the armrests were a serious mistake. ‘We wanted to create a home-style atmosphere where families would feel as comfortable as in their own living rooms,’ said Martin Hemmings, manager of the Merry Hill Odeon in the West Midlands. ‘But the film had barely started when the first child loudly demanded to go to the toilet and the picture was put on pause. From then on, it just got worse. The image on the screen was stopping, starting and rewinding and then people started switching channels to watch the snooker. In the end everyone was fighting so much that no-one was actually watching the screen.’
The chain are now going to change tack and switch their ‘Just Like Home’ initiative to a season of erotic movies. ‘We are saying to our adult audience, just do whatever you would do at home. We can’t see how that could possibly go wrong…’