Cineworld at the White Rose Centre launches their new Screen X theatre and were given a sneak preview.
Screen X is a new concept in film-going, promising ‘a more immersive’ experience. As someone who remembers the advent of Cinemascope, Tod-ao, Cinerama, 3D and IMAX I was intrigued as to how the next big thing would live up to the claim. The way in which it works is to provide a 270 degree field of vision but it differs from other ‘wrap around’ systems in that there are three separate screens with the film being shown in a conventional manner on the centre screen but with peripheral elements on the other two. This means that you concentrate on the action in front of you but the incidental part of the film continues round the sides. An illustration would be that if there were to be a chase down a street, all of the action would be on the main screen but as the characters sped along, the buildings on either side of the road would move past you on both sides.
The film chosen to open the cinema was a horror flick called ‘The Nun’ which involved the characters creeping through passageways and churchyards so the graves didn’t disappear from view once they had been passed but continued round the side giving a much more realistic feeling. I purposely sat at the back of the auditorium in one of several single seats, which was a nice touch for we lone cinema-goers, so as to get an overall impression of the way the system worked. It was quite effective even from this viewpoint but I am sure that it was stunning from the seats nearer the front where the side screens continue behind your eye line.
The only thing which I felt let the experience down was that the two screens at the side were not in operation throughout the whole film so, as it was a horror, the shocks were telegraphed a little with the music intensifying and the side screens coming alive. As this is a new technology I am sure that future films made in this format will develop accordingly. It is such a new thing that this is only the third Cineworld in the country to utilise it and the ‘projectionist’ was flown in especially from South Korea where it has been developed to get the system up and running.
I have to say that the film was not the best I have seen but the hospitality before the screening was very generous so after about an hour or so I needed a comfort break, as did most of the other members of the audience! As I was at the back in a single seat I managed to sneak out without disturbing anyone. Once in the corridor I was directed to the toilet by a lady named Grace who has worked for Cineworld in Castleford and Middlesborough so was very knowledgeable on the subject of cinema and its inner workings. We had a great chat and when I told her that I could happily live without knowing how the film ended, she took me on a behind the scenes tour of the complex.
There are 11 screens in all, comprising conventional cinemas, 3D and IMAX in addition to the Screen X. We passed through the back of the Imax auditorium where once again The Nun was roaming passageways and graveyards but impressive as it looked from that vantage point it wasn’t until she escorted me to the side of the screen on ground level that its incredible size could be appreciated. It seemed to go onwards and upwards forever. She let me into a secret so please don’t tell anyone else, that the system has to be set up with laser beams every day so as to get it bang on and everyone has to keep perfectly still whilst this is done or it messes the whole thing up.
I realise that it was a special presentation and that everyone was on their best behaviour but the staff and management were so pleasant that I can’t imagine them being any other way. Aside from Grace I was given a quick glimpse of the Screen X cinema by a manager so that I might photograph the auditorium to show just how luxuriously appointed it is. My seat had not just one, but two cup holders and reclined to make viewing a very pleasant pastime indeed.
Showtimes at Cineworld White Rose Centre can be viewed on their website
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.