Who’s going to eat popcorn with a knife and fork?
Think you might have the wrong end of the stick. Yes, there will be knives and forks, but the snacks at this cinema will be quite different to what’s available at your standard multiplex. In fact, you wouldn’t even call them snacks. Forget the sweets, the salty popcorn, and the nacho crisps served with that disturbingly orange-coloured cheese sauce. The focus here isn’t on fast food; it’s on fine dining.
So Captain America with a side of caviar then…
Again not quite, bit it’s certainly more along the right lines. The full menu hasn’t been released yet, but we do know it’s going to include Wagyu beef; vegan burgers courtesy of Moving Mountains; pizza; and wild boar hotdogs. And all of it will be brought to guests as they watch their chosen film, presumably by a team of pint-sized waiters.
Is this a new concept?
Odeon Luxe & Dine is certainly a new brand, but this isn’t the first time the cinema chain has dabbled with the idea of combining film watching with fine dining. Previously it had The Lounge, which opened at Whiteleys shopping centre in 2012, with former Le Café Anglais chef-patron Rowley Leigh creating a menu that included squid fritters and fillet steak hamburgers. Interestingly, Odeon were due to open a second iteration of The Lounge on Islington Square in 2017, but it never materialised, and the Whiteleys site closed recently.
How about other cinema chains?
Most multiplexes – your Vues and your Cineworlds – have mainly stuck to serving traditional cinema snacks. The closest you usually get to something warm is a questionable-looking hotdog. But the more independent chains – particularly Picturehouse and Everyman – have expanded their offerings, with licensed bars and hot food menus that often feature a selection of gourmet pizzas and burgers you can take into screenings.
Surely sitting next to some chomping on a slice of pizza as you’re trying to watch a film is distracting, though?
Well quite, although is it anymore annoying that listening to someone blindly shovel great loads of popcorn into their mouths? Snacking is synonymous with a trip to the cinema, but not everyone agrees with it. Indeed, film critic Mark Kermode and radio personality Simon Mayo, who present the BBC 5 Live film show, insist on a Code of Conduct that restricts food consumption in cinema to nothing more audible than a soft bread roll, so as not to disturb those around you when the film is playing.
Sounds a little like an overreaction…
Maybe, but there are many who abide by that mantra. People go to the cinema for a viewing experience, not a gastronomic one, which makes you wonder who the Odeon Luxe & Dine is trying to appeal to. It wants to attract to an audience that, thanks to the rise of streaming services, is now more inclined to spend the night in watching a film at home, but in order to appeal to those people on a broad scale, the prices would have to be kept quite accessible (which seems unlikely given that the price of an Odeon Luxe cinema ticket can cost upwards of £20).
Blimey. Anything else?
Odeon isn’t the only one to try and elevate cinema cuisine. In his 2011 TV series Mission Impossible, Heston Blumenthal tried to "reinvent cinema food" by matching a menu to a screening of the film Perfume. The audience were treated to such delights as fermented fish paste for the fish market scene; and an edible sperm shake, complete with pump action dispenser, for the orgy scene… suffice to say, it wasn’t much of a hit.