Vox Cinemas opening with Yas Mall has Abu Dhabi’s biggest screen

While there is undoubtedly truth to the argument that a cinema is, ultimately, a cinema, Vox Cinemas, which is opening a new branch at Yas Mall on Wednesday, November 19, has certainly pulled out all the stops to overtake plentiful competition in the capital.

Gold cinemas feature large reclining seats, hospitality staff and table service from the Gold menu. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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While there is truth to the argument that a cinema is, ultimately, a cinema, Vox Cinemas, which is opening a new branch at Yas Mall on Wednesday, November 19, has certainly pulled out all the stops to overtake plentiful competition in the capital.

Let’s start with the technology: among the megaplex’s 20 screens are two Vox Max cinemas, the largest of which features a whopping 23.5-metre screen, steep banks of stadium-style seating that offer prime-viewing positions to about 480 audience members (complete with a lift to reach the top levels) and true surround sound with Dolby Atmos that will envelop the viewer in the movie experience.

If your movie of choice isn’t screening in one of these two behemoth theatres, don’t be too down. Even the smallest of the other 18 screens is a none-too-shabby seven metres and all the theatres are installed with the latest Dolby 7.1 surround-sound technology.

Further thrills come in the form of the capital’s first 4DX screen. This Korean concept takes your favourite high-octane movies and adds moving seats, lighting, water, smell and air effects and offers a truly immersive movie experience. The specially created short films we experienced on our visit were impressive, though the fact that they were clearly designed to show off all the abilities of the technology meant they were a little more akin to a theme-park ride than a movie.

Cameron Mitchell, Vox’s chief executive, assures us, however, that when the 4DX team adapts blockbusters, always in collaboration with the studio, the idea is to enhance the film, not override it. Among the first movies to get the 4DX treatment at Yas Mall will be the forthcoming Furious 7, as well as the current hit Interstellar.

Elsewhere, a dedicated kids’ cinema provides brightly coloured seating and an adjacent play area and can be booked out for parties. Screenings can include picks from an extensive catalogue of kid-friendly movies, or a PlayStation can be plugged in to blast aliens on a giant high-resolution screen.

Finally, this being the UAE, luxury hasn’t been overlooked. Three Vox Gold cinemas feature large reclining seats and table service from the recently introduced Gold menu.

For those not in the mood for “Gold”, queuing for popcorn will be kept to a minimum with huge concession counters featuring no less than 22 service points. Even the staff are carefully selected – coffee is served by trained baristas, the Gold hospitality staff come from a hotel background, while the Vox management team have years of experience in the cinema industry.

As Mitchell notes: “Cinema is no longer just going and sitting watching a movie. There’s a lot of competition and internationally the market is not growing as everyone would like – although the UAE has had a booming summer. When we build a cinema, we do it well. When everyone’s showing the same movies for the same price at the same time, it’s tough to get people to drive past one cinema to get to yours, so we need to build cinemas like this to make sure that people choose this cinema, and we’re confident when people see this they’ll be blown away and drive past every other cinema to come to this one.”

cnewbould@thenational.ae