I’m based in Greenwich, so I’ve got a choice of four cinemas. One of them is in West India Quays, a Cineworld which is on the DLR and more of an outing but is a good cinema to go to because there’s a good lift up to the upper floors and you go straight into the screen and sit a couple of rows in from the front, which normally is the only option.
Then there is another one in the O2, also a Cineworld, which is pretty similar to the West India Quay one. In the O2, you buy your tickets in the same place as your food, and that is accessible. Here you also take a lift up and get seated about four rows back from the front, in the same way.
Another option is a massive Odeon, a bit of a walk or bus ride away from my place. The thing about buying your tickets there is, they have queue dividers that are just wide enough for a chair but go around corners as well, making the space very awkward to negotiate, so mostly I get my friend or PA to queue up and I wait at the front and come over to the desk once my friend’s arrived. In this Odeon you always get seated at the very front.
The last one, probably my favourite, is the Greenwich Picturehouse, which is a smaller building and therefore a little less overwhelming. The tickets are bought on the ground floor, where there are also a couple of screen, but most screens are upstairs, and you can take a lift to go there. The Picturehouse is the only cinema I’ve been to that’s actually given me the option of sitting in the chair or transferring, but on the other hand that may be because you can take the actual seat out of the screen. You can only really sit in the back of the auditorium if you stay in the chair.
I also use the BFI and BFI IMAX, and they’re fairly good. The BFI has too many lifts! You always have to take a few lifts to get to a screen. It’s a bit confusing and you have to do it a few times to get a sense of it. At the BFI you get the option of back and front for some screens, but they always give you the option of transferring. The IMAX has a lift, and when you get up the lift to your screen you get to see quite a bit of the IMAX’ “backstage”. There are quite a lot of corridors and doors to open on the way, and since the lift is meant for accessibility purposes it doesn’t make a lot of sense that then there are many heavy doors to open. In the IMAX you can only sit at the back and do not get the option of transferring. It is also nice that there are exits at the back so if it gets too much you can go out and rest your eyes.
There was a Vue at my university which I used between 2007-2010. In the cinema, you had the option of sitting a few rows in, like in Cineworld, or you also had the option of going up in a lift and sitting in a sort of box at the back, which was quite nice.
In my experience, the staff at the ticket offices is usually quite nice and listening. Sometimes the layout is not the best but staff is generally OK. And, of course, the films are mostly OK.
I never really ask for much help but there is usually a quick exit if you need to use the loo.
I would like ticket offices to think about how they put their queue dividers. I think it would be good if the seating arrangements could be improved. In some cinemas, like the Odeon, the screen seems a bit higher than usual, so if you are at the very front it is not ideal.