Last night I was very kindly invited to attend the Launch Party for the brand new XPLUS screen at Showcase Cinemas in Reading. I've long been an avid Showcase fan; the cinema is in a great location out of town which is easy to get to. It has a huge car park and it's never hard to find a space, and to be frank it's better value for money than the other cinemas in Reading. That being said, Showcase in Reading had been getting a little tired-looking over the past few years. When I found out the cinema would be having a full refurb and would be converted to a new "De Lux" cinema the movie-addict inside me was thrilled.
We arrived an hour early for the film that Showcase and Fox had kindly arranged for us to see, mainly so that we could have a look around the cinema and see what had been improved upon. The answer: everything. The Showcase Cinema De Lux Reading is now an incredible venue. There's a brand new Costa Coffee inside, along with a swanky new Party Room for events and parties for children. They've upgraded the snack stands and have installed a set of those super cool Coca Cola drinks machines that allow you to mix up your own drink (I went for Coca Cola with raspberry syrup!). There are also a load of comfy seats and sofas in the cinema lobby and it feels like a real luxury venue.
Once we had a look around (which included quite an intensely specific look at the champagne table) we were shown into the 7:30pm screening of the new Tom Hanks film; Bridge of Spies. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the screen that I walked into gave me the most amazing and intense cinematic experience I've had in my life.
Let's start with the seats. Who designed these seats?! All black leather, seriously wide and they have AUTOMATIC RECLINE! There is a small console on the inside of the seat which allows you to adjust the leg-rest and also allows you to recline the seat so that you are pretty much horizontal if you want to be. Finally, a cinema that has listened to their customers. Gone are the days of being awkwardly cramped up against the stranger next to you whilst a child kicks the back of your seat for 2 hours. Gone are the days of having to stand up so that you can let the guy from the middle of the aisle out to the bathroom for the 19th time. The aisles are so widely spaced that it is easily possible to walk back into the middle of an aisle even with every chair extended outwards. This is cinema as it should be.
We kicked back with our popcorn to listen to the Dolby Atmos demo that the cinema had arranged for us. The sound is like nothing I've heard before. They played a short clip of a rain forest storm complete with thunder and you could actually hear the thunder "roll around the room" as the clip played. The Showcase Manager explained that they had installed more speakers in these theaters so that now the sound comes from the back, the sides, behind the screen and even from the floor and ceiling to create a truly immersive experience. Showcase then did a demo of the power of the XPLUS screen. These screens go fully floor to ceiling and wall to wall. I've never seen a screen that large or that detailed. The resolution is ridiculous; it was crystal clear in a way that I've not seen elsewhere. The whole film-watching experience was so emotive because of the way the room encloses you in the film.
I can't rate the cinematic experience highly enough and I feel very privileged to have something like this on my doorstep in Reading. My advice would be to get in there and check it out as quickly as possible. You can pre-book tickets >> here <<, I'll be there tonight watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Seat reclined, of course.