I had been hoping for a 3D cinema in Pakistan for so long, all the while thinking it impossible. So you can imagine my surprise when a friend told me about the recent opening of a 3D cinema in my city! Yes, Karachiites can now enjoy movies in digital 3D at the newly-opened Atrium Cinemas. Naturally, we made plans to visit this cinema ASAP.
Following are my observations based on the 2D and 3D movies I have watched at Atrium Cinemas in Jan 2011.
Bookings: The first challenge was to find the contact information for the cinema. An initial google search took me to some posts about the opening ceremony. One such post contained the link to Atrium Cinemas’ official website, and voila! I could see the movie schedule and also found the contact info. I would’ve preferred an online booking option but it’s not activated yet.
The booking officer (on phone) was polite and helpful. After the initial reservation, you have to pick your tickets from the on-site booking office. We picked our tickets hours before the showtime so that we could come just before the movie started, instead of reaching there 45 minutes in advance. Yes, the box office closes 30 minutes before the showtime (at least for now).
Seat Selection: You can choose your seats (depending on the availability of the seats) at the booking office. The cinema layout is displayed on a monitor for you to select your seats. This is a big plus!
Location: The cinema is located in the Atrium Mall which is centrally located in Saddar. What’s more important for me is that it’s hardly 15 minutes’ drive from my home!
Transportation: Atrium Mall is easily accessible through public transportation. Buses, Taxis, Rickshaws, Private Cars – all options are available.
Valet Parking: @Rs. 50/- (approx. USD 0.6) per car. Major plus especially since it can be a bit difficult to find safe parking space in Saddar.
Accessibility: It may be difficult to reach the main gate of the mall if you need wheelchair access. The cinema is located at the 3rd floor (top floor) and is reachable through stairs, escalators and spacious elevators. I am not sure how easily accessible the buttons in the elevator are though for someone in a wheelchair. Still, if you use a wheelchair and are accompanied by another guest, it should be OK. I also didn’t see the wheelchair ramp nor any special space within the cinema for people with special needs.
Ambiance: Superb ambiance. Colorful, modern, clean, spacious. Since the cinema is hardly a month old, it’s in a spic-n-span condition, which makes the ambiance inviting for the visitors.
Food Options: A good variety of food and beverages are available from the counter outside the Cinemas.
Beverages: Tea, coffee, soft drinks, mineral water, etc.
Food: Chips, 3 types of popcorns, nachos, sandwiches, cookies, etc.
There’s also a KFC and Arizona Grill outlet outside the mall.
2D Cinemas (Cinemas ‘A’ & ‘B’): I’ve tried cinema B (176 seats) to watch the movie No One Killed Jessica. The picture and sound quality was great. But the best thing for me was the seat! Boy oh boy, was I in heaven! The seats were super comfortable, tall with a headrest (so you don’t get tired watching a long movie), and spacious. You can even sit in your chair with your legs crossed and up on the seat without any problem. The space between the rows is quite wide and you don’t have to move or stand up to let others pass.
3D Cinema (Cinema ‘D’): We watched the movie Gulliver’s Travels and enjoyed it in 3D! The 3D cinema (312 seats) is larger than the 2D one. The picture quality was also good and clear. I look forward to watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as I believe the magical characters of Narnia would really come alive in 3D.
3D Glasses: The reusable 3D glasses provided by Atrium Cinemas are manufactured by MasterImage (Korea). These 3D glasses are quite comfortable, better than the huge ones at the IMAX in Sydney. The 3D glasses in Sydney were too big, didn’t fit well (resulting in a headache), and had to be returned after the movie.
Audience: The Atrium Mall is not completely operational yet. Many shops are still being fitted by respective shop owners (Nike, etc). We went for the afternoon shows on weekdays and there were still some people at the cinemas. I would expect more people in the late evening/night/weekend shows. By the looks of it, the mall will be fully operational in 2 to 3 months which would mean more people visiting these cinemas.
Amenities: The washrooms were neat, clean and with proper fittings. A cleaner was also on duty at the washroom. The best thing: proper rooms, instead of the much-hated cubicles, to ensure your privacy. A hanger installed at the wall/washroom doors is needed though – especially for females who carry handbags or wear a dupatta, and for the men who might want to hang their jackets/coats.
Security: Electronic Scanner Gates are installed at the main gate of the mall and outside the cinemas on the 3rd floor. Security guards are also present at the scanner gates.
Safety: I didn’t pay attention to the emergency exit routes /signs, so can’t comment on that. However, there are separate entrances for entering and exiting each cinema.
2D Movies: PKR 200/- (approx. USD 2.3)
3D Movies: PKR 500/- (approx. USD 5.8) + PKR 150/- (approx. USD 1.7) for the reusable 3D glasses
Value-for-Money: I found the 2D and 3D experience well worth the money. The food and beverages may be a bit at the expensive side but that is expected.
Overall Assessment: All in all, a good place for clean, family entertainment.
Rating: 4 stars (for now); May be revised based on further information from future visits.
Censorship: The Indian movie No One Killed Jessica was censored. However, there was one uncensored kissing scene inGulliver’s Travel. I’d assume that most of the times the controversial/sensitive scenes will be censored so that family audiences, especially conservative ones, feel comfortable watching the movies at this cinema.