"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
March 10, 2008

The Cinema Thing

I’ve often been asked the “restaurant question.” You know the one – “you’re such a good cook, have you ever thought of opening a restaurant,” or variations thereof. It’s the kind of thing that is really, really socially awkward. On the one hand, it’s a “nice” question, a kind of compliment really (though sometimes a […]

I’ve often been asked the “restaurant question.” You know the one – “you’re such a good cook, have you ever thought of opening a restaurant,” or variations thereof. It’s the kind of thing that is really, really socially awkward. On the one hand, it’s a “nice” question, a kind of compliment really (though sometimes a backhanded compliment). On the other hand, it reveals that the questioner doesn’t know me really well, maybe misunderstanding what motivates me as a cook, or overestimating the time I have devoted to the craft of cooking, or, most likely, misreading my ability to handle pressure in the kitchen. I love cooking, I’m committed to becoming a better cook, but I’m ill-suited to the job of being a chef and would probably make a woeful restauranteur.

By contrast the one question I never get asked is one I love to entertain and discuss – have you ever thought of opening a cinema? To be honest, I have thought about this – on and off for over a decade. Yes, I’ve even done a small bit of research into this as well. Of course, there are reasons why I might be a very bad cinema proprietor – I deplore the way some cinemas sounds like an animal barn at feeding time, not to mention the risible sound of mobile phones or idle chatter amongst the patrons. A food-less and monastically silent cinema might not do all that well in the current climate.

Or, maybe it would just be a case of finding the right market? I don’t really have an answer to that.

But, one thing I do think might be an answer is to explore again the possibility of partnering to create a film festival. With cinemas looking for alternative revenue streams, there is a possibility for creative partnership. It’s something to ponder.

Responses
Randall 15 years ago

I love that idea.

Opening a Cinema would be a cool thing, except I, like you, would be receiving your cell phones at the door and no food a in the movie space. Might scare customers away.

But the film festival idea, that could be a good one.

We live in a smaller city with one theater and rarely do we get any of the more non-mainstream movies coming through town. That could be a way to interact with our community too.

Toni 15 years ago

If I were to build a cinema I’d try to include a Faraday cage in the walls, so that mobile phone transmissions would be effectively blocked. It is interesting to note that my local Tesco seems totally impenetrable to Vodaphone. O2 will work, but no Vodaphone signal can enter. If i stand in the car park my phone works fine, but within 10 feet of the building – pouf.

Slightly OT, but what the heck. I did once wonder VERY briefly about a restaurant, but the working hours and conditions are, frankly, utterly frightful. Would a cinema be much better? I wonder?

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Hong Kong has a Jewish film festival that screens some great films and is well supported. I guess it really would come down to how it is pitched and finessed.

As for mobile phones, well they are on par with smokers in restuarants for me!

I think a cinema runs itself a lot more than a restuarant, in terms of day to day activities. Our local five screener has less staff than the cafe I visit most days!

Paul 15 years ago

it is a wonderful idea – i have been to some excellent private cinemas and loved the fact that they were so more sociable – wine, quality ale, gourmet popcorn 🙂

the downside in these visits was that it was midweek night and the cinema was virtually empty 🙁

On the cooking side they screened “The Restaurant” with Raymond Blanc on the Beeb last summer – 10 couples who could cook competing to go into business with Raymond. It was a real eye opener seeing them run their own restuarants – and the amount of work to turn out the food required. Suddenly cooking for friends looked a lot more fun then cooking for profit 🙂

fernando 15 years ago

Paul – As a rule, we tend to go to the cinema midweek. When it comes to cinemas, restaurants and clubs, I’m guilty of calling Saturdays “Amateur Night.”

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