Cinemark XD is an Extreme Digital Experience where viewers get face-to-face with the action and experience cinema like never before! Extra large, extreme entertainment for the senses. Mega-sized ceiling-to-floor screens, wrap-around custom sound and a maximum comfort entertainment environment ensure that every seat is an intense sensory experience.
Huh the huh? Is it me, or does that description sound like a Mountain Dew commercial? I could barely get through the paragraph without jumping out of a plane on a snowboard.
But if we cut out the EXTREME jargon, I think we're left with:
- Bigger screen
- Better sound system
- Comfier chairs
Those are all nice. And for the matinees I was looking at today, the XD experience will set you back $12, whereas the traditional showings are $6.50.
Now I've been in the XD theater at my local multiplex, for a 3-D showing of Despicable Me. I guess it was a somewhat larger screen than other auditoriums. I don't remember being wowed by the sound or my ass feeling especially well-cushioned. So I'll probably keep that extra $5.50 in my pocket.
The exhibition business is rough, so I hold no ill-will toward even the mega-chains for getting creative to make ends meet. But there are things that can be done to make movie going a truly "premium" experience.
In LA, I often go to the Arclight Hollywood. Premium pricing gets you an actual reserved seat, an usher to monitor the auditorium and quality of the projection/sound, and access to a snack bar with higher-quality eats and alcohol. Whether that's worth the extra bump in price is up for debate, but for me it is, and at least you can point to some tangible "premium" features.
It's tricky to create tiers based on "quality," as Cinemark is doing. Does this mean the showings in the other auditoriums are shit? Shouldn't the projection and sound be excellent in all your auditoriums?
The cynical reaction - and I'm not sure it's wrong here - is that Cinemark XD is just a way to charge a higher rate for a few showings even when there's not a 3-D film in that auditorium. At the least, it seems likely the vaguery of the perks will make movie-goers skeptical of premium pricing in general.