The first Ōma Cinema is set to open next year in Paris, and its architect and founder Pierre Chican is confident his new design will catch on. “Whereas all cinemas built for more than 50 years now are similar and reproduce the same seating arrangement for the audience, this concept of a movie theatre creates a cinematographic experience,” Chican says on the company’s website.
The design is original, but some online commentators have pointed out the striking similarities between it and the fictional senate first seen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999).
Cinemas have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak of coronavirus, and it might seem like an odd time to be building a new movie theatre. However, the innovative design does allow for social distancing from other audience members thanks to its pod-like structure for groups.
The Ōma Cinema will be a unique experience for both audiences and theatre operators. The intimate atmosphere created will allow the cinema to offer an à la carte service to attendees. There are essentially three major ways in which Ōma is differentiated from conventional cinemas: the multiple pod system of grouped seats, the ability to rearrange and modify each pod or balcony as required, and the placement of the projector, allowing the audience to sit closer to the screen.
The design of the new cinema means you no longer have to worry about getting a sore neck when you’re sitting in the front row, and you won’t have to squint to read subtitles when you’re sitting at the back. Auditoriums can now be more evenly spread out, giving everyone a better experience.
The projector doesn’t need updating, but it can now be placed in a central location between the pods. Again, this makes for a better viewing experience for the audience as a whole.
Time will tell if the concept catches on, but with cinemas in desperate need of attracting customers after months of lockdown, this could be the way ahead.