When I was in London in 2012 for the Olympics, I went to watch a couple of films (and paid handsomely) at the (brand new) Westfield Vue cinema. Wasn’t too impressed. Here’s some feedback I also emailed to them… [edit, 20/08/2012: Vue responded, click through for the reply.]
I recently watched Dark Knight Rises at the Westfield. I paid the premium – almost Â£15 – for the VueXtreme screening in a premium seat. I was incredibly disappointed with the experience. The seat was really quite uncomfortable – wrong rake angle, not enough incline on the seat so you end up very numb and uncomfortable after two hours.
I entered the theatre at the start of the advertised screening time — I then had to sit through TWENTY SEVEN minutes of adverts and trailers before the film actually began! This beat my all-time record of 25 minutes for the last Harry Potter at a Cineworld years ago.
And as the icing on the cake, the “exceptional picture quality” was far from it. Given the cinema’s equipped with Sony 4K projectors throughout, the picture quality was really underwhelming. Judging from the frame wobble on the end credits, the copy being shown looked like a high quality transfer of a 35mm neg. It also lacked the sharpness and superb picture quality I’ve come to expect from native 4K screenings. I’ve seen 4K screenings at other Vue venues and the picture quality’s been far better.
All in all, I was very disappointed with the experience. Also, the cinema prices are incredibly expensive. We have an independent 4K cinema here in Birmingham with Barco 2D/3D 4K projectors and although it’s one of the most expensive cinemas in the Midlands, it’s still cheaper than the Vue Westfield.
The only good thing about the VueXtreme screening was the sound – immersive surround, excellent frequency response and chest-thumping LFE. The soundsystem in that theatre was truly excellent, it’s a shame the picture quality did not make the grade. The PQ and SQ in the standard theatres was only pipped slightly by the premium theatre – the picture quality was actually pretty much the same in both threatres.
If the poor PQ on the Dark Knight is the fault of your distributor, you need to have serious words with them because it’s just not sufficient for a digital screening.
Regrettably I won’t be recommending Vue Westfield to anybody until the picture quality improves, particularly if you’re paying Â£15 just for a ticket to a premium screening. The amount of ads and trailers I had to endure just to watch the film was incredibly annoying, my patience wore so thin I almost shouted at the projection booth! I also went to watch Ted later that week and there were far less ads (also the PQ was better), all in all the viewing experience was actually better than the Batman premium screening.
Hope this feedback proves useful, the Vue Westfield venue has the potential to be excellent but it’s currently being undermined by the problems I’ve listed.
On the 18th of August, Vue customer services replied with this:
Dear Mr Woods,
Thank you for your email. Please accept my sincere apologies for any disappointment caused on your recent visit to Vue.
Please be advised that all seats within the auditorium are checked after installation to ensure they meet with health and safety requirements and it is disappointing to learn that you found these to be uncomfortable.
Please be aware that the length and content of the trailers and advertisements are decided by the film companies, in this instance Warner Brothers, and therefore Vue cinemas do not have any control over the process. I was sorry to learn that the picture quality of the performance you attended was not satisfactory. My colleagues at the cinema are required to carry out regular screen checks and if any problems are found, action can be taken. Between these times they rely on guests to report any issues, once informed of any problems further assistance will then be provided.
Please be assured that I have addressed your comments with the General Manager at the cinema so that any necessary improvements can be made for the future.
Please note that our prices are set at rates which coincide with the surrounding area and are competitive with local pricing.Â I apologise that this may be inconvenient however I can confirm that you can save up to 25% off of peak tickets if you visit us from Monday to ThursdayÂ before 5pm or up to a 10% saving from Monday to Thursday, 5pm and after.
If you have any problems at the cinema again please ask to speak to the duty manager as most issues can be resolved more efficiently at the time. We always welcome feedback and thank you for your comments.
So, some kudos at least for replyingÂ — RoyalÂ Mail never replied to a written complaint I sent both centrally and to a localÂ sorting office. Sadly however, Vue’s response is a perfect example of a reply doing an expert job of addressing the complaints without providing a resolution. Fine-tuned copy and paste work.