Last April, Riyadhizens were finally able to enjoy a movie theatre for the first time in a long time and we wrote about it in an earlier post. A couple of weeks after the first movie being shown in KSA, VOX Cinemas launched their opening as well, debuting their IMAX Experience® and the VOX Kids Cinema at Riyadh Park Mall. VOX Cinemas is a Middle-Eastern company that operates movie theaters throughout the UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman and now, Saudi Arabia! Yesterday, my husband were able to watch its latest feature, “Ant Man and the Wasp” in their IMAX theater. How did it go? Read on to find out.
But first, what is IMAX anyway? Many might wonder what is the difference with the standard movie experience. The term “IMAX” is a term coined for “Image MAXimum” and this pertains to the most obvious difference against the standard which is the size of its film (70 mm vs 35 mm). It is double projected for higher brightness and clarity and the much bigger screen makes for a fuller movie experience. In short, the bigger, the better! (not pictured because my camera couldn’t do it justice from where I was sitting).
IMAX theaters are also associated with movies that feature special 3D effects as IMAX cameras have the technology to produce a very realistic viewing experience that can have objects/characters literally zoom in right into your face and/or alter your perceptions. Hence, the need for 3D glasses during a movie. The way the theater is designed is also different as the rows of seats need to be steeper by up to 30-degrees in order for the audience to actually face the screen directly. It also employs the IMAX Sound System which is really intended for a cinematic experience and was able to give us the right rumbles and feels in intense action scenes.
Did that get you excited yet? The next question you will probably ask us is how do you book tickets? The first thing we did was to go to their website: http://ksa.voxcinemas.com and created an account. You will need a credit/debit card to use for the payment of your booking so that’s a requirement. Once you’re done signing up you can go ahead and check the movie schedules. If a timeslot is in “pink”, it means tickets are still available for it. If the timeslot is in white, it means it’s already sold out. Earlier it seemed that we could only book a day before a screening date and would always be left out because a time slot was sold out immediately. But now, it looks like they have slots open for the next three days at least. I booked our tickets on a Thursday for a Saturday 12:30 PM show. IMAX tickets went for SR 60 per person + SR 3 booking fee (Total of SR 126 for two people). Standard cinema is for SR 50. There are separate showing times for males only and families only. Once paid online, I received an email with a QR code that serves as our ticket to present upon entry at the show.
In the email, it said that we needed to be at the venue at least 20 minutes before the show starts. Now VOX Cinemas is located within the same floor the amusement park of Riyadh Park Mall called the “Magic Planet” so it is really an entertainment hub once you see it. We saw life-sized figures of an IMAX Robot, Tony Stark and Captain America welcoming us in the entrance. Behind them was the concessions area, with food options of popcorn, hotdog sandwiches, nachos, burgers, candies and even chocolates. What I really liked while prepping for the movie was that most of the staff who were attending to us were Saudi women. From the cashier to the one checking our tickets, I was glad to see women in the workforce. And they spoke good English too. Good job, ladies!
The Experience? To be honest, we didn’t have the best seats for an IMAX experience because when I booked our tickets, the only available seats left were for the first two rows and we took the ones on the second row. It wasn’t thaaat bad, it’s just that we had to keep our heads a tad bit tilted up during the duration of the film because we were quite close to the screen as it is. We could already see the pores of the characters! LOL. The theater was full and we didn’t have the option to possible exchange our seats for a vacant one upstairs. Mind you, this was the first IMAX experience for both me and my husband so we were more excited than anything else. By the time the trailers for the upcoming movies were done, we were already WOW-ed by the immensity of the scenes and how “in-your-face” the whole action was. The rest of the movie ran on without a hitch and it was the collective acts of laughing at the funny moments and keeping silent at extremely tense scenes that really made me feel like it was a being a part of a “community” — if that makes sense.
The sounds were definitely better here than in our earlier experience at the other cinema — with the base and grit of action sequences really making its way into our bodies. Overall, it was very satisfactory theater experience that we would happily return to (Mission Impossible: Fallout, we got our eyes on you next!). Also, my husband dropped our Magic Planet card inside the theater and when we went back to look for it, the cleaning staff were kind and accommodating enough to help us look for it (and we eventually found it!).
The prices of the ticket and food are reasonable enough for us and its accesibility is also a plus. No confusing pick up points for our taxi drivers. I suppose my only query for the entire experience was that they didn’t offer the use of 3D glasses as mentioned in the email. I’m guessing the version they showed in the IMAX theater that day wasn’t in 3D format. Also, in the future more booking schedules for a whole week can probably give more opportunities for people to get seats.
As for the Kids Vox, we don’t know how they work or how to specifically book for the kids coz we don’t have them yet (the kids, that is). And there weren’t any specific instructions found on their website on how to book for kids and/or if their rates are different either so I can’t provide further info on that. I did see the area dedicated for kids though.
Other than that, we are definitely excited to go back and watch another movie in the IMAX theater of Vox Cinemas!
F Floor, Riyadh Park Mall
2886 Northern Ring Branch Road,
Al Aqiq, Riyadh 13511 6332,
Open from 9AM til the last full show that starts at 11:45 PM