Odeon Luxe Opens at Thorpe Park, Leeds

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by Michael Davidson

The sun glows behind hazed clouds over an idyllic Iowan cornfield as Kevin Costner wanders through his crop. The wind worries the shoulder high stalks with a whisper – “if you build it, they will come”.

With trailers readily accessible on phones, Oscar nominated films such as Roma available (almost) exclusively through streaming sites like Netflix and affordable Ultra 4k, HDR, 10 bit panel depth displays for the home, what can cinema chains like Odeon do to encourage people to pay the price of admission? As in 1989’s Field of Dreams, they build something special.

Odeon Luxe at Thorpe Park, Leeds is a new, bespoke, 10 screen multiplex with an edge. The flagship screen of this latest entry to Odeon’s portfolio is a Dolby Cinema, dual projector 19m behemoth and one of only two in the UK (to visit the other would require a trip to London’s Leicester Square). Entrance to the cinema is through a long, dark corridor reminiscent of a theme park ride and emerging into the room beneath the towering screen is an equally exciting spectacle.

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“Visuals are impressive”

The room seats 263 (with 3 additional wheelchair spaces) but has capacity for double that. Thankfully though, Odeon have opted for quality over quantity and prioritised customer comfort with plenty of leg room, a handy adjustable table and electronically reclining chairs.

What this cinema offers that competitive chains don’t (and what even a top tier home set up definitely can’t) is immersion through a picture quality engineered to the best possible output. This is something that I acclimated to through the film, but it’s still an impressive bit of tech. Cinema projection has changed a fair amount since the days of 35mm film and one of the sacrifices of going digital around 2009 was a reduction in colour gamut. Working with Dolby, Odeon have managed to improve the visible colour spectrum as well as increase resolution. What this basically means is that the black is very black, the white is very white and everything in between is as the Director intended you to see it. While the visuals on display are certainly impressive, the stand out was the sound. The bass intensely pulsates and high pitches crackle to create an expertly crafted experience.

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“All tastes are accounted for”

The foyer to the cinema is an open space with ceiling high windows for the sun to stream in through which was a welcome contrast to what is traditionally a dark and enclosed room. The location is well considered with a convenient bus route stopping just outside, ample parking and wheelchair access throughout.

On the menu are standard cinema staples including popcorn, nachos and hot dogs but unexpectedly chicken strippers and fries were also available. Add to that a bar upstairs and a Costa Coffee below and all tastes are accounted for. These can be enjoyed in a pleasant seating area or during the film with use of the aforementioned and convenient tables within the screen.

The film showcased during the opening gala was Shazam, a charming super hero feature with sharp comedic writing, relatable themes and likeable characters. The director comes from a horror background (spot the Annabelle cameo!) which shows in the villain’s back story and design but its executed in a way reminiscent of 80s films like Gremlins or The Dark Crystal. A similar throwback is how amiable and (as the film progresses) heroic the main character of Billy/Shazam ends up being. Recent cinema outings have seen Superman snap necks and Batman brand people so this was a pleasant surprise. With Shazam, children actually get to cheer for their protagonist.

Odeon Luxe at Thorpe Park in Leeds is now open for bookings


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