Stepping inside the new Roxy Boutique Cinema at Box Park — itself a modern and industrial shopping strip — is to travel to an era reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour.
The cinema marks a new phase of expansion for Roxy Cinemas, which currently has complexes at JBR and City Walk. The boutique cinema wants to provide a classic experience of cinema and service.
“The whole team was thinking ‘What can we do differently in the cinema business?’” says Jean-Marc Bled, general manager of leisure and entertainment at Meraas Holding. “Because in Dubai there’s plenty of rooms, plenty of halls and so many different technologies.”
“The cinema business is becoming extremely industrial, with multiplexes of 20 to 25 screens, and I think the service has been a bit forgotten along the way to attract more people into bigger halls. The Roxy is exactly the opposite,” he adds.
The Roxy at Box Park features smaller cinema sizes — its five theatres have a capacity of just 99 seats in total — in an attempt to make moviegoing more personal. “Everything here is really a blend of vintage and nostalgia, going back to a personalised kind of service,” Bled says.
“We’re trying to put the cinema experience in the centre. We want people to come here as a destination. Cinema has become a bit of an afterthought -- ‘We are going to the mall so let’s go to a movie at the same time.’ We want people to treat themselves to a full experience.”
Gulf News tabloid! got a sneak peek of the venue. Here are five things you should know:
1. Immerse yourself in vintage decor
The cinema’s dining space — where all guests are free to sit and absorb the atmosphere — is decked out in posters of classics, both new and old. Audrey Hepburn smiles down from the wall as Holly Golightly, while a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock is perched nearby, alongside posters for Forrest Gump and Wolf of Wall Street.
A screen plays the movie trailers of classics, and lounge booths are guarded by semi-drawn scarlet curtains to evoke the mystique of another decade.
2. Experience intimate-sized cinema
The Roxy’s biggest theatre seats just 21 people. Red leather armchairs have replaced your typical movie seats, and vintage lampshades sit on wooden side tables next to them. The price is much dearer than your average cinema at Dh150 per seat, but there are perks: blankets and pillows are available in a box at your feet, and food service is round-the-clock to your chair.
3. Attend special events and masterclasses
As part of the Roxy’s endeavour to create a hub for cinema buffs in Dubai, they intend to have a steady line-up of events. “We are planning to do launches, premieres and masterclasses with locals and directors,” Bled says. “We want to be a hub for everything related to movies in the UAE.”
It will be an opportunity to revisit classics as well as explore new cinema. “In line with the classic theme, we want to run special nights of sci-fi movies from the ’50s,” says Bled. “And the Academy Awards are coming up soon, so maybe a week of Academy Awards movies.”
4. Browse the bookshelf
The Roxy is in the process of assembling a library on the history and art of film for its visitors to browse at leisure. An antique-looking bookshelf is one of its centrepieces, housing books that range from niche (on the making of The Sound of Music) to generic (1001 Films to See Before You Die). International titles on film-making in New York sit alongside local titles on film festivals in the Middle East.
“We chose [for the Roxy] to focus on the experience and movies,” Bled says. “So let’s talk about movies. Let’s talk about behind the screens. People can come here and read before or after the film. We want to create this community, this hangout, for people to come in regularly.”
5. Hire your own theatre
One of the most unique features of the cinema — albeit the most exclusive — is the option to book out a full room in a ‘cinema on demand’ style service. With hand-stitched armchairs on their way from Italy, the experience is one of luxury and prices to hire the 16 seat cinema start at Dh3,000. But it’s a special service, according to Bled: “You can say ‘I want to see this movie in one hour’ and we can make it happen. This is the beauty of it.”
Don’t miss it
Movie tickets to the Roxy Boutique Cinemas star at Dh150 each on theroxycinemas.com.
— Natassia Chrysanthos is an intern at Gulf News.