Allocated seating at cinemas: the pros and cons

Square

Over the years, cinemas have seen many enhancements in order to provide an improved experience, such as the implementation of digital technology and 3D glasses. However, one development that has been the subject of much controversy in recent months is the introduction of allocated seating at Cineworld cinemas.

Following a successful trial period, allocated seating was introduced in Cineworld cinemas nationwide in June 2014. This made Cineworld the latest major chain to introduce the system, with Odeon and Vue already having allocated seating in place.

Cinemagoers took to social media to express their dismay at the introduction of allocated seating, with many posting photos of Cineworld Unlimited cards cut into pieces. The “Say No To Allocated Seating at Cineworld” Facebook page, which was created in May 2014, has racked up over 4,300 likes – a figure that continues to grow more than sixth months on.

The backlash is understandable. Many cinemagoers are weary of the increased difficulties that arise when group booking, while some feel that there is a distinct lack of freedom with allocated seating. After all, nobody wants to be forced to sit next to the person who chews their popcorn with their mouth open or the person who is attached to their phone for the duration of the film.

On the other hand, you and your friends are guaranteed your choice of seats in the auditorium. This is particularly useful for more popular film screenings, in which seats are limited. As an added bonus, there’s also that great feeling of pleasure that comes with telling someone that they are sat in the wrong seat, as you hold the evidence in your hand as if it was Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

However, one of the main reasons for the introduction of allocated seating at Cineworld is to slowly phase in “Star Seating”, which is set to offer customers “the chance to upgrade and select a more padded seat for extra comfort and the best view in the house”. The Star Seating is currently on trial at five Cineworld cinemas across the country, with other chains already offering premium seating options.

Having experienced allocated seating first-hand over the past six months, I believe its implementation is a positive for cinemas on the whole, although it should be limited to busier/larger screenings. Whereas it will take regular cinemagoers a while to adjust to the new system and it may cause the occasional problem here and there (predominantly through human error), it’s comforting to know that you are able to guarantee a seat in the auditorium.