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Isn't it bright in here?

This is an open letter to my local Vue cinema at Cheshire Oaks.  Actually that’s the polite way of saying its a rant.  I don’t want to be too harsh as the arrival of Vue vastly enhanced the viewing experience.  It was my first experience outside the US of big comfy seats with decent legroom.  Even now, with a good few years under its belt, it is still in good nick and they have invested heavily in 4K digital projection. 

I can even forgive them the cost of tickets and especially concessions because I am aware of the way Cinema economics work.  I can even forgive the chronic unreliability of the coffee machine as Starbucks and Costa are only 100m away.  What is winding me up at the moment is a bit more fundamental...turn the bleedin’ lights off!

I have recently been updating my lounge.  I know that my choice of light colours was always going to limit the quality I can expect from my projector.  However, this is a north-facing room and its my lounge...a certain degree of compromise has to be expected.  You don’t really expect compromise in a cinema where the pre-show Vue advertising is eulogising the experience.  

Vue haven’t gone as far as painting the room white but their lighting seems to be designed to trash the contrast.  I have long felt that they keep the house lights too bright.  This is washing out the contrast from the top.  For a spectacle wearer like me you tend to get unwanted reflections - worse in 3D films.  The next two problems are worst in the small theatres as they are narrower and the steps are closer to the screen. Vue have installed new blue LED safety lights to mark the steps.  There are uplighters along floor marking out the shape but there are also an array of lights across the front of the steps pointing at the screen.  Why!  These stay on during the film at the same light output.  Watching the Hunger Games and Act of Valor recently all the dark scenes had a distinct blue tint which I am pretty sure the colourist never meant to be there.  It looked like a day-to-night filter from the 1940s.  My last gripe is the fire exit signs.  These doors are close to the screen edge and are also way too bright.  I can understand why they need to be visible but do they have to be almost painfully bright during the movie.

It probably time to stop railing against safety culture before I turn into Jeremy Clarkson but, please Vue, turn down the lights so I can properly enjoy your fancy new projectors.

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