Eastleigh’s new facilities

It’s been a long time coming, but at long last Eastleigh has its Cinema. When I moved to Eastleigh a few years ago, I was told that a cinema was ‘coming soon’ I then found out that there had been rumours of a cinema for several years and nothing had come of them.The tricky part was that the council were actually denying requests to build a cinema complex anywhere *other* than the town centre. So they needed not just a willing developer, but one willing to build right in the heart of Eastleigh, rather than a convenient out of town location.

I’m personally glad Eastleigh Council stuck to its guns on this. Though it’s easy to say that now it’s finally built.

Originally the development was due to complete in October 08, this was later revised to ‘late in 08’ and finally announced that ‘despite bad weather and steel delays…would be opening Easter 09’ … Despite? This was annoying as the summer was not bad. It wasn’t a great summer for people. But it didn’t rain that much and it was probably a perfect summer for building. So a delay of something like 6 months from the original estimate seemed pretty steep to me. But I’m sure those responsible were in enough trouble for completely missing the Christmas period.

Not just a cinema, we now have AMF bowling, 20 lanes of bowling goodness. Plus a Frankie & Benny’s and a Nandos to follow sometime next month.

The bowling opened a couple of weeks back, along with Frankie and Benny’s. It’s nice to have a restaurant that provides a reasonable range of food. The existing places are basically Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Italian. These are all nice, but it’s useful to have somewhere that caters for a broad range of tastes in one place.

The bowling alley was an instant hit with me, I think they had some clever mechansim at work that could tell it was my first visit, and allowed me to bowl a 202 which is my best score ever… by far.
Of course this clever tactic means I’ve already been back a few times. Never to repeat such a feat. But, because I’m sad, I’ve been keeping track of my scores…115, 128, 131,145, 160, 167, 202. I like bowling, and luckily Kat does too. So I can see we’ll get some good use out of it. Shame it’s quite expensive, but I guess that’s bowling for you.
On the subject of expensive… Yesterday the Vue Cinema opened its doors. We went along intending to try it out for the first time. There isn’t really much on at the cinema at the moment, so the choices were not great. But I was interested in seeing Monsters vs Aliens…3D!! (The new cinema has 2 digital screens) However we discovered that Vue in their wisdom, think they should charge a £2 per ticket premium for weekends AND another £2 per ticket premium for 3D. This meant that to see this film would cost £10 each. Now maybe we’re just old and stuck in our ways, but that seems like an awfully large amount of money to watch a film.

When 3D started to make a comeback with cool sexy, polarised glasses that don’t give you a headache to use. I figured this was cinema’s big opportunity to justify the cost and bring in more people. They seem to be using it to justify even higher cost. And I just don’t think this is a good idea. They have a relatively small window before consumer electronics catches up with the technology and brings 3D to your living room. In the mean time it should be a good draw. But I personally don’t think it warrants a premium. I’m already at the point where some films just aren’t good enough to warrant me going to the cinema to watch them. I can wait a few months and rent them, or wait a couple more and buy them. I much prefer watching films in my living room given the choice. It’s more comfortable, I can pause whenever I want. And I can drink/eat without paying stupid prices. To entice me to the cinema it needs to walk a careful line of value for money and an experience I can’t easily get at home.

For the moment I shall stick to Orange Wednesdays and be happy that I have the facility of a cinema close enough to home to be able to make use of ‘off-peak’ pricing, and the Orange 2-4-1 deal whenever I can.

On the whole I am very happy to have some great new facilities on my door step. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other business it draws to the town. Already we have a J.D Wetherspoon opened in place of what had been something of a dive. So that’s a great start.