Fanatical about Fleecing - An Exposé of Odeon Cinema.


Something is rotten in this country's cinema industry. Recently the following tirade came up on my Facebook feed, posted on Odeon's facebook fan page:

        I went out last night with friends to see Ted. I'd not been to the cinema for a long time so I thought I'd treat myself and the fiancé to a film.
Firstly, £21 for 2 tickets and a medium 7UP! I don't know who you expect to get into your cinemas but they must have more money than sense as this is ludicrous. I could go onto Play or Amazon and buy myself about 12 DVD's for that price!
 
Secondly, the place was dead. I can only attribute this to your insane ticket prices. There were more staff than paying customers. "You'll have been served quickly then" you may ask. Well, no. There were 4 staff behind the counter, 2 of whom I can only assume we're there to play with a cloth and talk about pointless crap with their teenage colleagues whilst watching 4 people becoming more and more irate in the queue. Even more annoying was, despite the plethora of school-drop-out 'staff' that were milling about trying to look busy and achieving the square root of nothing, no-one came into our screen so we had to pull the doors shut ourselves. Trivial you may think but, hey, I shelled out £20 for the 'cinema experience' so I expect to actually get it.
 
Thirdly, I think it's ever so nice of Odeon to give their cinema goers 2 movies for the price of one because, whenever there was a part in Ted that has little or no dialogue, we were all treated to the wall shaking sound of Batman being played in the next screen but, come on, why not charge half as much and we could SEE both rather than watching one and hearing two.
 
Your little advert about piracy killing film was the final straw though. Between us in the group we paid you over £45 so four of us could get the 'cinema experience.' Considering the way the country is don't you think this is excessive? Especially when I could go out, by a DVD, buy a lot of 7UP, buy everyone food and have change for the same price, AND I could watch the DVD over and over to my hearts content. I know that I wouldn't get the whole 'experience' but I'm sure I could pay a spotty teenager to ignore me and leave my lounge door open so I at least feel little like I'm in an Odeon.
 
If you want to see more people in your cinemas and actually put a dent in film piracy you should really try and cut your prices, hire decent staff and forget the 600% profit margins on your food and drink.
 
You are putting plenty of nails into the cinema coffin Odeon. I won't be back in a hurry.

                                                                                 - Matt Pledger (https://www.facebook.com/ODEON/posts/523396924342167)

These frustrations at the quality of service provided by Odeon obviously carry substantial weight as the post is nearing 300,000 Facebook 'likes'. The fact of the matter is that every single issue raised in the complaint is something everyone - including myself - fully agrees with. A trip to the cinema does cost well over the odds and Odeon are alienating many of their would-be customers. Up to and over £10 on the ticket itself, £6 for popcorn and £4 for a drink can quickly exhaust any bank balance. And its true what Matt Pledger writes - where does this money actually go? The staff themselves seem disinterested and unhelpful - more disposed to play Temple Run on their grubby iPhones than to provide any level of service, the food and beverages are average at best and the audio/visual quality isn't even exceptional. I recently booked online to see Ridley Scott's Prometheus at the 'Giant Screen' in Birmingham's Think-Tank and paid £10 for two tickets. At the time I thought it was a mistake - for tickets to a 3D Imax film to be this price when compared to the Odeon. On reflection this price range is what all Cinema's should strive to offer - the viewing was a sellout making the atmosphere better than the all too common deserted Odeon screenings and the visuals made some I've seen on Odeon screens look like 80s B-movies.

I have many fond memories from my childhood of my Mum taking my brother, myself and our friend Mathew who she used to Nanny for to the Odeon at Beckenham to watch all the latest must-see kids films - Spy Kids, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Monsters, Inc to name but a few. In this time of recession how is a young mother supposed to take her children to see Frankenweenie or the equivalent without breaking the bank? Certainly had I been a kid in this day and age my mum wouldn't be able to take us to the cinema like she used to. How is the besotted boyfriend supposed to treat his lady-friend to a film and popcorn while still being able to pay his T-Mobile contract? How is the 'film fanatic' Odeon claims to represent supposed to see more than one film a month and be able to pay the gas bill?


And this brings me on to a complaint not voiced in the Facebook post. Odeon claims to provide to those who are 'fanatical about film' but the range of films screened there is markedly limited. Sure if you want to view one of the myriad animated kids films being released in the past couple of months they're your guys or if you want the flexibility of seeing Skyfall with the choice of fifty showings  throughout the day by all means check them out. However, if - an example I suffered recently - I want to see Ben Affleck's Argo I am left unceremoniously disappointed. Why can't they just do without a showing of the latest James Bond romp to give film fans a chance to experience something other than the latest box office hit? It seems clear to me that Odeon are far too focused on what is financially advantageous to consider the interests of the film fanatics they claim to serve. Its all well and good telling me to go to a more boutique art-house cinema but this is not an option where I live in Coventry and I daresay this is the case in many other parts of the country. The fact of the matter is Odeon is the only option for many (perhaps in some cases Vue which is equally guilty of Odeon's crimes against cinema).

I feel like if Odeon were to acknowledge the complaints voiced here and to amend their service accordingly they would actually see a crowded cinema on a day other than Wednesday.

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