While cinemas in much of the world are closed or grappling with dwindling attendance, Camana Bay Cinema has seen increased demand for its VIP seating. To meet this demand, the cinema saw a series of significant improvements last month, including the opening of two new VIP auditoriums in the space that was formerly Cinema 4.
All of the improvements are being made with one major goal in mind, says Cinema General Manager Corey Randolph. "We want to enhance the guest experience," he says. "People have a lot of choices in how they can see a movie, but we want to give them more reasons to come and see one here. It's only at the cinema where people can see a film the way the director intended it to be seen."
The two new VIP theatres are smaller than the first one, with each having 25 recliner seats as well as Dolby Atmos sound systems.
"We've effectively doubled the number of VIP seats we have available," says Randolph. "And with three different VIP theatres, we have flexibility. We can offer more films with the VIP experience, or show the big hits in more than one VIP auditorium at the same time."
Even though the new theatres are smaller, they have the same number of speakers as the large VIP auditorium, which will make the listening experience more dynamic.
"The moviegoer will be closer to the speakers and closer to the action than ever before," says Randolph, adding that Dolby Atmos systems are generally available only in large cinema complexes in big cities. "The guy who is installing the sound system says he's never done an installation in a room so small."
The new VIP auditoriums also feature other improvements. The seats are basically the same as those in the first VIP theatre, but there's a slight change in material to make them easier to clean. In addition, they have lighted aisle and seat numbers that will aid guests in navigating the room in the dark. Strip lighting installed on the walls will also enhance the aesthetic of the room.
Randolph said that the smaller VIP auditoriums will allow the cinema to offer screening buyouts for much less than previously.
"They will be great for a variety of private events and even birthday parties for kids," he says.
Avid moviegoer Lynn Smith says she's thrilled that there are now three VIP auditoriums.
"We had to wait more than three weeks to see "Avengers: Endgame" after it opened because every time we tried to book a mid-evening time slot, it was sold out," she says. "Now, with more than one VIP theatre, it should be easier to see the big films soon after they open."
Smith said she prefers the VIP theatres to the regular auditoriums for many reasons.
"I like that the seats are comfortable and you can put your legs up, that there's space for your popcorn and drink, and that you can have a glass of wine if you want," she says. "Once you've experienced the VIP theatre, you really don't want to go back."
Another improvement in the VIP experience is a new exclusive entrance at the back of the cinema complex. Guests coming to see a film in one of the three VIP auditoriums will be able to enter through these doors, buy their tickets at the concession stand if they haven't purchased online and order any of the cinema's concession items. Although most of the food items are still prepared in the main concession area at the front of the cinema, guests ordering those foods will have it delivered to the VIP lounge area.
Also now installed for VIP guests only are two touchscreen "Pepsi Spire" machines that allow for customers to add flavour shots to their favourite soft drinks.
"We're the only ones on the island who have these," says Randolph. "Guests will be able to get unlimited single-day refills at these machines."
Gone are the old digital signs over the entrances to Camana Bay Cinema's auditoriums. They've been replaced with 43-inch television screens at door level that show a movie poster of the film in each auditorium.
Randolph said additional improvements at the cinema are coming in the form of new food items on the concession menu. This has been buoyed by the popularity of the current food items.
"We've done very well with the concession," says Randolph. "We even have people who come in just to buy food and then take it away."
This article originally appeared in the January 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians. He is a movie buff who spends many an evening catching a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!