There’s a certain kind of expectation whenever you leave the comfort your sofa in order to watch a movie on the big screen. Most often these are blockbuster movies you cannot wait 3-4 months to watch whenever available on DVD or satellite. For fans of the big screen living in cities where you actually have a choice of cinema to attend, we tend to have our preferences, and even drive to the other side of a big city simply to cater to this preference.
Ster-Kinekor provides South Africans with roughly 60% of cinemas available with 54 complexes and over 400 individual cinemas. Nu Metro cinemas contribute to the 2nd largest percentage of movie complexes with more than 20 around South Africa. Additionally, there are many other smaller movie complexes, a number of which are privately owned. There are more than 100 movie complexes around the country, but which of these features among the top? Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays, Fortress of Solitude will feature a number of top movie theatres, including an in-depth look at the experience, pricing, location (surroundings) and more.
The first to feature on the list is Ster-Kinekor’s Cine Prestige. Situated in the heart of Johannesburg at The Zone@Rosebank, this cinema has a lot of high expectation surrounding it. The cinema was launched as a proof-of-concept in April 2012 in which users are able to provide feedback (by means of a form found at the front desk) on their experience and make suggestions on improving its service over the next while.
What makes this different than any other cinema experience in South Africa? Firstly, it offers only a select number of seats, with only 48 available for each screening, however, each of these seats are fully reclining, allowing you to lay completely flat, and covered in soft leather.
While you are able to purchase the same popcorn, drinks and sweets you usually would at any other Ster-Kinekor theatre, Cine Prestige provides an additional menu featuring a small number of platters, ranging from R50-R100, and a variety of hot beverages. Although the menu selection is decent, it is a bit vague and you’re not quite sure what to expect in terms of its portions. Thus, we ordered 2 separate platters for 2 individuals, which turned out to the correct decision. In addition, we also ordered from the dessert menu and included a cup of coffee for good measure.
The overall impression of the dining experience was met with mixed reactions, although nothing horrific. Yes, the additions to the menu are a welcomed experience, but in order to improve the overall satisfaction and provide a greater variety, it would be suggested that additional items, such as finger-burgers, chip and dips, etc. be added. It is also essential to potential Cine Prestige moviegoers to arrive around 20-30 minutes before the scheduled screening time to avoid platters arriving after the movie has already started. Although there is a small light on the miniature table (next to each seat), it’s slightly tricky to eat finger foods in the dark. I will add that the dessert menu provides by far the best platters available. One dessert platter is sufficient for 2 patrons, with no concerns with the selection of mini-desserts (a minimum of 2 of each of the 4 different desserts on the platter).
Overall, the experience was satisfactory. The staffs on hand are friendly, well-spoken and willing to assist where possible, even bringing in your eats while lounging in the reclining seats. The only real area of improvement lies in the catering, as the platters aren’t quite filling and not as cost-friendly as you would hope.
To enjoy this cinema experience, you can expect to pay R85 per ticket, which equates to R350 for 2 people when you include the platters. The same movie specials are available as with the usual tickets, including SK Movie Club, Discovery Vitality and Edgars Club Card members. If you consider that 3D movies now cost in the region of R70 a ticket, there isn’t much difference in ticketing cost in the end, especially with all the additional benefits.
All-in-all, moviegoers will return every so once in a while, if only for the relaxing atmosphere while lounging in comfort as I am almost certain talking teens won’t be found anywhere near Cine Prestige.