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XPloreNollywood: How Do You Rate Your Cinema Experience in Lagos?

Efeturi Doghudje

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Going to the cinemas to watch a movie can be a personal delight, especially if you are looking to catch up with friends, wind down a hectic day or just wanting to relax and live a little. With this at the back of your mind, you pick one of the cinemas in Lagos out of our limited number, and make your way to it, only to get there and at the end feel it would have been ideal to just stay home and watch your DStv Explora.

Over the years of writing about movies, trends and the arts, I had been thinking of conducting a poll, that will speak to our Nigerian cinema experience. In fact, I had a conversation about this on my radio show and the opinions from my callers were funny, but not funny oh! So, when my friend Bosun said let’s go see a movie and instead of visiting Surulere mall which is where we stay, we decided to visit the Ikeja mall.

With good time on our hands, we purchased the tickets, strolled around, waiting the time out and then proceeded to the hall to watch the movie. With popcorn in our hands, we sat down, and discovered that the chairs were reclined!

Now this is the 2nd time I have visited the Ikeja mall to watch a movie; the first time was when I took my nephews in 2013, so I am not sure, if they have always been that way, are spoilt, or in need of maintenance.

As part of an updated cinema experience, I know luxury cinemas across the world have gone that route, deploying a reclined seat to enable you enjoy the movie, but can you imagine a reclined seat in that cinema? It felt totally awkward to me.

Now I can probably go on about why a reclined seat doesn’t work for this cinema, but I will focus on the cinema that gives us close to a decent cinema experience with a rating from ‘A to F’. I will be considering location, parking, confectioneries, Personal CSR messaging, toilet facilities and maintenance!

Silverbird Galleria Victoria Island
The oldest cinema chain in the country, was the awe of many in 2004. I recall having to put on my Sunday best to go and watch a movie. After a while, it was mainly during the periods when the tickets were cheapest. Now, with the advent of other cinemas in the state, the place is rarely as packed.

Location
When I worked in Victoria Island and even moved to Marina, Silverbird was always central to me. Now in Ikeja, the thought of going there is a long thing, but I believe it still pays those that live and work in Victoria Island.

Parking
This has always been horrible… since inception; but imagine when a blockbuster is showing! Having to drive to the lot and then the security will either be hoarding space or charging N500 to park was also incomprehensible. Why do I need to suffer myself again? For a movie? Nah! Home to the rescue.

Confectioneries
Wow, I am totally biased as it relates to Silverbird Galleria popcorn! How they do it that the others can’t get is beyond me. Asides the clump of sugar I find in my bag sometimes, they make the baddest popcorn mix in the state! Thank God for that.

Personal CSR Messaging
So I didn’t know this existed until my first movie at the Galleria. I actually took that message to heart and ensured that once I was in the hall, I respected the other people in this space ensuring my phone is on silent, the light is dim and I’m not a distraction. This I maintained, even when the message changed to infographics and just recently not available. Now do people still adhere to this? I’m not sure I can blame the cinema for people’s behaviour, but I think the crowd here is also the most matured and they keep their comments to the barest minimum.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
Unfortunately this has gone down the drain since the time the cinema was first established. As the only building with an escalator then, that facility hasn’t worked in a while.
There are also rats in the cinema halls; yeah, I had one stare me in the face, sometime back! The toilets scare me, like I feel I would walk in there and catch a disease when I walk out. The 2nd floor toilets, which was recently renovated, is slowly becoming like the rest. I advise anyone to avoid the ground floor stalls.

Cinema experience overall: E

Genesis Deluxe Cinemas Lekki
GDC was the second most popular cinema to kick off operations in the state. Having gone through a name and logo change just recently, the cinema caters to the Lekki environs people.

Location
As mentioned, GDC as it was popularly called is located at the Palms Lekki. As the hub of one of the major malls in the state, the location was okay. The location is totally out for me, as I don’t need to journey all the way to watch a movie, but it works just fine for the people nearby.

Parking
If there is ever something like heavenly parking, then GDC at the Palms is it. For a long time, parking was free and readily available even during blockbuster movies.

Confectioneries
I’ve never been a fan of their pop-corn, shawarma and the likes. Even when they opened the City Mall outlet, there was no major change in the popcorn

Personal CSR Messaging
I don’t recall if there was ever a responsibility message for people in the halls. I recall watching an above 18 movie a while back with friends, and we could hear the kids behind us chatting away talking about everything and anything. However, I watched the movies Fifty and Suru’lere there, and I can say the crowd are  well behaved.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
Even with an addition of a VIP section, nothing can change the fact that the facilities are falling apart. I’ve never had a rat incident, but those toilets are something else. From faulty faucets, to no water, toilet paper or a bad hand drier, the list is endless. Let’s not get started on the state of the cinema rooms sef!

Cinema experience overall: D

Ozone Cinema Yaba
The 2nd cinema to be established by the Murray-Bruce clan, was a hit in Yaba when it was initially set up. It brought new light to the area. People didn’t have to drive all the way to the island to watch a movie, so it was pretty awesome.

Location
This was pretty dope, especially since I didn’t have to drive to the island to watch a movie. But asides location, there has always been something aesthetically wrong with the cinema halls at Ozone. It never really resonated with me.

Parking
Another cinema with no parking is Ozone. If this has changed, then forgive me, but as at the last time I visited, parking was done on the streets… with no security men, but touts managing where you park.

Confectioneries
I don’t remember if I ever had confectioneries here, as I basically wanted to watch the movie and leave.

Personal CSR Messaging
Initially, when they first opened, this was a given, even though the crowd didn’t care. However, subsequently, this was a thing of a past.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
Now I remember why I don’t eat when I am the Ozone. The facilities were not enough to cater for the number of people that go in and out of the place. There is always a queue that stretches to the hall.  It is also the 2nd building in Lagos with an escalator; I’m not sure if this still works, but the facilities are also slowly losing steam.

Cinema experience overall: F

FilmHouse Surulere
The dawn of Filmhouse Cinemas in Lagos was pretty much welcome, choosing to kick off in my very abode ‘LSR’ a.k.a Surulere. Filmhouse came with a thunder to shake the other cinema chains with a strategic development plan to roll-out twenty-five (25) cinemas over a six (6) year period that commenced in December 2012. It’s 2017 and I believe there are 10 cinemas down, 15 more to go

Location
This cinema is a delight, as it is basically in my backyard. When I feel like taking a stroll, I am there. If I need to watch a late-night movie, it works. The location pays me well.

Parking
It’s location in Leisure Mall was both a blessing and a curse. The mall parking cannot take more the 100 cars. There is the option of parking at Adeniran Ogunsanya mall, but that is also limited in numbers. So, we do the natural thing, turn duo lane roads to single lane, as cars literally park on the road – anywhere space is available.

Confectioneries
As it relates to popcorn, they get a pass mark. I also love their shawarma, as they are not miserly with the content inside. I have however eaten one that the chicken was going off, but one out of the many I have had can be forgiven.

Personal CSR Messaging
Another cinema chain that started with CSR messaging then dropped it after a while. However, CSR messaging or not, I have never seen an unruly crowd like the one in Surulere. If they are not telling their partners what they think the story line of the movie they are just watching is, they are answering their phones and speaking loudly, or basically shouting at the movie. It is a market place! Phew, it is exhausting. The only movie they don’t talk in is a horror movie. I recommend that if your intention is to watch a movie there.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
Initially, when the mall was opened for business, the toilet facilities were great and functional. While this hasn’t changed much, we now have to pay to use the toilet facilities at Leisure mall. The cinema halls which have been extended to Adeniran Ogunsanya is free though, but if they are not careful, it will be heading down the drain.

Cinema experience overall: D

Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, Maryland
This is newest location in the GDC cinema chain. It started its operations as soon as the mall opened and have had decent operations.

Location
Another location that comes in handy for the people of Maryland and Anthony. Its location is quite apt as well. I recall the shopping complex that used to be there. It is one I never entered, but wondered how shop owners survived, as it was rarely visited. However, the Maryland shopping mall is haven to people around its environs.

Parking
Parking here is quite easy, although I see that people are reluctant in parking underground, so they are always jostling for space overhead. I like it though, everything feels so compact there. The best times to visit and get good parking 11am ish, just before the shopping people.

Confectioneries
They get a pass mark as it relates to the confectioneries. Once you are with kids, their staff are quite handy and hurry it up. They are quite good and helpful.

Personal CSR Messaging
There was no CSR messaging, but I was proud of the kids though. I was watching ‘Trolls’ and the kids were pretty much well behaved and focused on the movie once it started playing. I’m not sure how it is when adults are watching a movie, I would like to believe they might not need it much.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
If they keep up with maintenance especially during the weekends, I think they will go a long way. Toilet paper and working driers is a must-have, so I do hope they get their acts together before things start going downhill.

Cinema experience overall: C

Silverbird Cinemas Ikeja
This is the mall that inspired this write-up; it was the first to open in the Ikeja environs. I recall hearing the call for a missing child when I visited the first time so I held my nephews tight, because I did not want to hear story.

Location
The opening of this cinema, basically reduced the visits from people living on the mainland to the island. It was a big relief for the people of Ikeja, Magdodo, Agege, and so on and a welcome development.

Parking
This mall kicked off the payment for parking service that we have prevalent in all malls now. While the parking space is quite vast, it was still all nightmare to many, as the inflow of vehicular traffic is something else. Over the weekend, the number that park around the mall, compared to the number within the mall? Wow and wow is all I can say.

Confectioneries
So even if I have a biased for the Galleria popcorn, I believe their popcorn comes in a close second to good popcorn at the cinemas. I can’t however, move from this point without talking about the area where the confectioneries are sold. Well, facilities will take care of that.

Personal CSR Messaging
Not sure if it existed here, but in its early days, watching a movie here was noisy. However, my last experience was quite cheerful as we were watching a somewhat horror movie. Like I said, watching a horror movie doesn’t get a lot of talk from viewers, so I recommend it again.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
Unfortunately and I say unfortunately, the facilities here, have really gone down the drain. The chairs recline, which makes it awkward to watch a movie. The concession stand is scary; it feels like something will come out the back and jump us. The toilet, feels and smells so public, like I won’t have minded that Ical smell of back in the day.

Cinema experience overall: F

FilmHouse Cinemas Lekki
The new kid on the block and belle of the FilmHouse Cinemas chain, this cinema was opened last year (I was privileged to attend the opening ceremony), and boost of the first IMAX cinema in the whole of West Africa. It has also become the go- to event venue for movie premieres and festivals.

Location
For the people in these environs, I want to believe it works. For me, I would make the trip to watch a movie in 3D.

Parking
I noticed since launch that the don’t have a large parking lot, but I also noticed that they don’t have high volumes of people at once. I have never been there on busy weekend or a public holiday, so I cannot categorically say, parking is a nuisance here.

Confectioneries
Another pass mark on confectioneries. Due to the VIP cinema hall, people can have actual meals with a glass of wine, so it’s like your home away from home. I also like the fact that one can just visit the sports bar upstairs to have drinks.

Personal CSR Messaging
I haven’t witnessed it here, but the people are typically well behaved and I trust they don’t need to be told to be quiet or speak in hush tones.

Toilet Facilities and Maintenance
As with everything new, it feels great to walk into the toilet and do your business. Hand washing liquid, functioning hand driers and courteous cleaners, the works. Maintaining this is what we pray for. Also I recall during the launch, they were basically still working on bits and bobs of the structure. I hope this isn’t the case till now, though and everything is safe. Overall, this is cinema has the best facility overall.

Cinema experience overall: B

Do you think I have been fair? Let’s talk about it, which cinema experience is the best in the land?

Photo Credit: Serhii Bobyk | Dreamstime.com

Efeturi is an ardent lover of movies and currently the publisher of www.xplorenollywood.com a Nigerian film critic site that reviews everything Nollywood with the aim of strengthening the Nigerian Movie Industry. She hopes to use her platform to stir the industry in the right direction and has taken steps to ensure that her reviews are fun, entertaining and punchy without avoiding the main issues which is to have world-class productions in Nigeria.You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram on @Xplorenollywood and listen to her live on 92.3 Inspiration FM every Saturday at 9pm.

10 Comments

  1. Dee

    May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    The Filmhouse at adeniran ogunsanya mall is top notch with very good toilet facilities as well that are separate from that of the mall’s. So Surulere has been upgraded to give a better experience.

  2. Agu

    May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Fantastic but more Movie theaters need to be built. I will like to build one my self someday.

  3. Moyo

    May 16, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Totally right about the cinema experience at Ikeja city Mall and Ozone Yaba. I went to Ozone on a working day, not public holiday and I had my own personal CSR messaging experience, I had to tell him to shut up, those of us in the hall were about 10 and this nuisance managed to spoil the film experience for me. My advise to everyone do not go to a cinema in Lagos on a public holiday, you will regret it

    • Grace

      May 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Why would you use the restrooms at cinema in Ikeja City Mall. Just visit Beerhugz or Rhapsody’s and use their restroom.

  4. Agu

    May 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    To add to my comment I checked the cinema in Owerri I have to say it was really amazing experience.

  5. Adunnie

    May 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Fantastic article. I enjoyed reading it. GDC at Maryland is my go to cinema right now. I like the environment. Their shawarma has been good so far. No one makes unnecessary noise in the cinema hall. The only time that happened was while watching the wedding party. Never been a fan of the cinema at ICM tho. I always end up running into people I know and don’t want to see. Ozone on the other hand, sigh. Mosquitoes will be distracting and biting you while watching a movie. The toilets are a big no especially in the afternoon when people are many. The attendants can start giving stories that touch about how the movie you want to see won’t be showing that day, they are usually polite and apologetic tho. But Ozone cinema is mostly terrible. The only thing I like about ozone is I can watch a movie for 500 bucks when I present my student ID. Lol. But so far I’m loving the cinema at Maryland Mall.

  6. Brenda

    May 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I enjoyed this review. For some reason I thought it was a guy who wrote this.

  7. funmilola

    May 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve never been to any cinema in Lagos and I reside here…. shame on me.

  8. Ms B

    May 16, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Well done! been to almost all and the review is on point!

  9. Bennie

    May 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

    On point, really on point! but for me, Maryland is the best. Ozone is a No no! i haven’t tried Filmhouse Lekki sha

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