Brighton’s two Dukes: my two favourite cinemas

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Image: The new Duke’s at Komedia‘s legs sculpture

This is a blog post about the newest cinema in Brighton, Dukes at Komedia, which opens this Friday (after a launch party tomorrow).

It’s a personal post, even though my company is working with the company that owns the cinema, Picturehouse Cinemas.

This is written because I really love the place. I’ve been a fan of the original Duke ofYork’s cinema in Brighton  since I was a student at Sussex in the early 90s (my minor was Film Studies, so I could sometimes claim my visits were part of my work).

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Image: A photo mural of the old Duke’s going up in the café of Dukes at Komedia

I love the Duke’s – the new and old incarnations – because I love cinemas and they have the best experience of any cinema i’ve been to anywhere in the world. I think that going to the cinema should be about perfection – so indulge me as i walk you through what’s so great about the new cinema.

The tech 

Take a look at more of the tech in this photo gallery

Chatting to the team there, the cinema is not just well kitted out, it is basically over-specced: the sound and vision is more than is needed.

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The set-up for the two screens (150 and 100 seats) includes (I believe): 

  • An integrated media block – you basically insert flash drives with the movies which then feeds to the projectors in the cinema
  • The 3 terabyte drive can hold 100 feature films. 
  • Series 2 projectors (basically the latest generation of digital projectors)
  •  7.1 sound
  • The screens are (forgive the technical term) enormous. I’d be happy sitting in the front row or the back – I’m thinking of trying them all out and creating a seatguru.com style review site for cinemas.
And even though it is digital, doesn’t mean there isn’t a projectionist looking after things. Jimmy, the long-serving projectionist at the Duke of York’s has been on site setting it up and I was told there will always be a projectionist there to make sure both screens are running perfectly.

The seats

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Image: Some rows of seats are these plush doubles… lovely!

The seats at the original Duke of Yorks were recently replaced with plush, high-backed chairs that are wonderful to settle into for a couple of hours. The new Duke’s has these plus a few rows of expansive double seats. Selfishly I hope I’ll get one of these to myself at some point – the are incredibly comfortable.

Crucially the view of the screen seems good in all, even at the back. Recently I paid for premium seats at a large chain cinema when I went to see Skyfall. Not only was there an annoying aisle light right next to me, but the massive headrest of the seat in front obscured a small part of the bottom of the screen. How slack….

Light and darkness

Earlier this year I saw films on consecutive days at a big chain cinema and the Duke of York’s. The biggest difference was the darkness. In the big chain it was still basically light in the room, in the Duke’s you were in deep, wonderful darkness with just the screen lit up. So much easier to lose yourself in the film, the be completely absorbed…

Bright aisle lights and exit lights are so annoying in cinemas. Health and safety fears and laziness, I presume, but they really detract from the viewing experience.

Jon, manager at the Duke’s told me these were picked specifically to be less light-polluting. Nice. Really nice.

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Image: A (subdued) exit sign…

The food and drink 

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image: The coffee is top-notch… 

it’s nice to be able to take in a beer or wine in the evenings. The new Duke’s has two cafés and the coffee is on a par with the best in Brighton (Redroaster, Café Coho and Ground, for my money). Looking forward to to trying the new menu too – I hear that there will be hot dogs, and not of the slightly scary multiplex variety.

The web app

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Image: The Storystream app Brilliant Noise set up for the launch week… (and some more coffee).

This isn’t a reason to go to the cinema, but it is a plug for the project we’re working on, telling the story of the launch of the Duke’s at Komedia this week and we’re really pleased with it. You can see the app here: http://picturehouses.co.uk/dukesatkomedia/launchstory I think it looks best on an iPad, but it also works well on smartphones and computers…

And the rest of my photos are here on Flickr

: : Bonus fact: Lastly, it has been pointed out, as of this Friday Picturehouse Cinemas will own the newest and oldest cinemas in Brighton, in fact in the UK…

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