For VIP treatment
Singapore had its first taste of a first-class cinema experience in 1999, when Golden Village introduced its Gold Class option at GV Grand (Level 3, Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, www.gv.com.sg. $28). Perks included recliner seats, embroidered blankets, restaurant-quality food and wine – and a concierge at your beck and call. It’s now a popular trend, with other cinema chains following suit: joining the fray last year were Shaw Theatres Premiere (#04-64 nex, 23 Serangoon Central, www.shaw.sg. $20-$30) and The Cathay’s Platinum Movie Suites (Level 5, The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd, www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg. $28). Meanwhile, GV unveiled Gold Class Halls at GV VivoCity (Level 3, VivoCity, 1 HarbourFront Walk) and GV Katong (Level 4, 112 Katong, 112 East Coast Rd). Expect even more luxury halls in the near future, particularly in heartland areas. First up: a new Shaw Theatres Premiere branch in Punggol, which is set to open later this year.
Launched early last year as a members-only chill-out spot, the Beanbag Lounge at WE Cinemas’ flagship theatre at Suntec City (#03-051 Suntec City Mall, Tower 3, 3 Temasek Blvd, www.wecinemas.com.sg. Two-hour rental $600) is now available for private functions or film screenings. The lounge is home to 16 super-comfy beanbag chairs, along with a 65-inch widescreen TV equipped with an Xbox Kinect. While the lounge has mainly been used as a reception area when the cinema hosts prescreening events, punters are free to view DVDs chosen from its collection or to bring their own. Depending on the lounge’s success, a full beanbag cinema for current releases could follow at other WE branches around town.
For IMAX movies
With a slew of 3-D blockbusters hitting cinemas this summer – think The Avengers, Men in Black III, Prometheus and The Amazing Spider-Man – it’s the ideal time to indulge in the IMAX experience. There are currently two IMAX cinemas in Singapore, both operated by Shaw (www.shaw.sg. $19- $22). One is at Lido (Level 6, Shaw House, 350 Orchard Rd) while the other is at JCUBE (#04-11, JCUBE, 2 Jurong East Central 1). What they lack in choice (there’s normally only one big release on at any given time), they make up for in bells and whistles, namely a dual-projection system and a screen that’s not only about 20 per cent larger than average, but is also curved at the edges to minimise image distortion. The 3-D effects also appear brighter on the enlarged screen than at the standard size for 3-D screenings. We saw The Avengers on IMAX, and the experience was more immersive than what smaller screens can offer. Also look out for The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX this month from 19 July – it’s not in 3-D, but has scenes shot in IMAX format.
For indie flicks
If you’re suffering from blockbuster overload, Singapore is home to plenty of places where oldies and non-studio films are the featured attractions. Venues such as the Screening Room (www.screeningroom.com.sg. Dinner and movie $68++, movie only $20), The Arts House (www.theartshouse.com.sg), National Museum of Singapore (www.nationalmuseum.sg) and 8Q SAM (www.singaporeartmuseum.sg) host regular, curated screenings of classic films, while The Pigeonhole (www.thepigeonhole.com.sg) and The Substation (www.substation.org) continue to champion the local film scene. Their respective SingaFilm and monthly First Take nights are both free, and spotlight short films from homegrown directors. Finally, fans of the local film company Sinema (www.sinema.sg) will be happy to learn that despite its departure from Old School, screenings are set to continue under a partnership with Golden Village, to begin in September. GV Grand will take on Sinema’s regular programming, which tends to focus on films with a regional focus.
For foreign films
Beyond the film events hosted by cultural institutions such as Alliance Française (www.alliancefrancaise.org.sg), screenings of foreign and arthouse films are regularly held at venues such as The Cathay’s The Picturehouse (www.thepicturehouse.com.sg) and Cinema Europa at GV VivoCity (see above). Both typically screen independent – and often foreign – films drawn from the festival circuit, which generally aren’t given a wide release. For an even more underground option, there’s Chinatown’s long-standing Yangtze Cinema/KTV (Level 4, Pearl’s Centre, 100 Eu Tong Sen Rd. $5-$9), which specialises in foreign R21 fare – a polite way of saying the audience is typically made up of men with a taste for Asian softcore porn.