There’s only so long you can keep fobbing off a fully grown man who wants to see the latest Marvel film. I had resisted with, ‘I’m busy… yes, every day’, ‘I’m 34 weeks pregnant and exhausted’ and the ultimate favourite, ‘please just go without me!’ Then again, I thought that as I have been to see all of the other Marvel films over the years- to the extent that I now know I have to wait until ALL of the credits have scrolled by to see the post credits scene, I gave in. One of the temptations was that we could watch the new Captain Marvel film starring Brie Larson at our local cinema, which we hadn’t tried yet.
We had been keeping an eye on the cinema’s restoration in the months before it opened, an arrival of a cinema was causing much excitement, especially on market days where the owners were greeting people and advertising the membership packages in person. As far as I understand, The Rex cinema in Wilmslow is an independent, family run business which I hoped would make a different customer experience to that of the likes of ODEON, Vue et al. which I’m used to.
Setting the style expectations are the building itself and the Rex sign which are both art deco style, giving this cinema some instant personality points over other brands that are purpose built in shopping centres and towns. The owners describe themselves on the website as ‘a family of film enthusiasts who have rejuvenated three cinemas in small towns with the hope of restoring them to the heart of the community’ and it shows. We walked inside the foyer and were met with glitzy lights, gold coloured detailing and a staircase to take us straight up to the bar and screens, so far, so Gatsby.
To our surprise, we walked into a busy bar area, with people milling around, buying snacks and supping on lagers and wine; all very pleasant and sophisticated for a Thursday evening post 8pm! We didn’t have much time to hesitate over where we should buy our tickets as a friendly lady at the bar called us over where we swiftly purchased two tickets for under £20, our willpower somehow resisted the snacks. We were politely advised that we’d have a 2 minute wait until the doors would open and everyone would be let in.
I hadn’t expected this ‘holding area’ at the bar, but I loved that everyone was waiting for the same show, it created a bit of a buzz, not unlike a theatre foyer. A lady appeared (is this what would have been known as an ‘usherette’?!) asked everyone to follow her up another set of steps to the screen. It was a really personal gesture that actually added to the feeling that we were in a more intimate, family run environment. Everyone was happy to follow and present tickets at the door where she was then quickly and friendly advising where different seats were.
I seized my opportunity to check out the loos where the 1920s décor continued and to my delight, real hand towels were in supply. This may seem trivial but we at Brand Vista believe and quote Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney who once said ‘A brand is a living entity, enriched cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures’. If the family run Rex brand is all about film enthusiasts providing a more personal experience, then hand towels are absolutely appropriate and another way of reinforcing the brand at a sometimes neglected but very important stage of the customer experience!
The cinema screen itself was very plush, art deco lights and velvet armchairs with arm rests and trays at the end to place drinks and snacks. We had purchased standard tickets which were very roomy and comfortable but next time I’ll be trying one of the two seater sofas which had different embroidered velvet cushions on; I spied that the nearest one to the door had a Romeo and a Juliet. It’s this attention to detail that is another great on brand gesture that signals this is a place for film enthusiasts who want a bit more than a carbon copy cinema screen and experience.
Watching the film itself was fine, I’m not the target audience for a Marvel film but I did stay awake! My other half said the sound quality was more impressive than a big chain cinema we had been to recently in Manchester. I’m no sound engineer but all the explosions sounded good to my untrained ears.
Walking out, we’d had a good time and been pleasantly surprised by little, personalised touches which I can now see continue onto the website and Instagram page. I’ve got a lot of time for the website’s Jobs page which plays on Liam Neeson’s infamous and often quoted Taken lines and asks prospects to detail which film character they’re most like and why, and the best customer experience they’ve ever had, amongst other things. I would hope that this means the Rex would only attract other film enthusiasts who could engage with customers on their way in and out of films. ODEON try and do something similar in that all staff name badges also detail their favourite films on them which should serve as a conversation starter, or stopper- depending on the film choice I suspect!
All in all, Rex cinema is a brilliantly aligned customer experience. It’s a small but mighty family run business, it may not have all the latest films, at all times of the day but who cares!?... With this experience, I felt welcomed in, at home in unique surroundings and that I was in the company of people who truly enjoy film and want to bring it back to a more intimate experience, so I shall be going again.
I’m off now to watch Avengers: Endgame, which I believe is the last Marvel film... for a while.