Hoyts Needs To Lift Its Game If It Wants Our Money

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Torn and stained screens in shabby old cinemas aren't helping the film industry's quest to win Australians back from movie piracy. Something's got to give.

At first glance you might assume that all cinemas are created equal, but if you have an eye for detail then you'll appreciate how widely the quality can vary even within the same cinema complex. Having taken my family to Hoyts Highpoint in Melbourne's north west twice these school holidays, I've vowed not to go back until it does something about its decrepit older cinema theatres.

We only go to the movies a few times a year, so it's frustrating to spend your money only to discover that the picture would have looked better at home. While the cinema chains like to brag about the quality of their new cinemas, they're clearly happy to let their old cinemas fall into disrepair.

First my family saw The Lego Batman Movie in Cinema 9, which has a large stain on the right-hand side of the screen which is clearly visible during bright scenes. The movie has been out in the US for months, I was determined to wait until it reached Australian cinemas – to set a good example for my children – but you shouldn't need to take a squeegee on a stick to the movies just to ensure the screen is actually clean.

Next I took my teenage son to see Ghost in the Shell in Cinema 2, which I discovered has a large tear at the bottom left of the screen that has been stitched up to leave a thick scar. The overall picture quality was also rather underwhelming and I don't think it did such a visually spectacular movie justice. I'm tempted to see it again in cinema with a better projector and screen just to see how much of a difference it makes.

Part of the trouble is that Hoyts' Highpoint complex is at least 30 years old, and it's been expanded over time. If you walk past these shabby cinemas and up the stairs you find newer cinemas with better screens and sound. These are the cinemas which we've seen most movies in over the last few years, but unfortunately there's no easy way to match up session times with specific cinemas – so you pay your money and take your chances.

That's not good enough considering how much it costs to take a family to the cinema these days, so I rang the box office to ask the best strategy for ensuring that you see a movie in one of the better cinemas, without resorting to paying extra for IMAX or LUX.

The person who answered the phone was very understanding, conceding that some of the Highpoint cinemas leave a lot to be desired, but said the only real option is to call in the morning and ask which sessions have been allocated to which cinemas that day – which presents a challenge when the Hoyts Highpoint Facebook page is full of people complaining that it's hard to get someone to answer the phone.

Even if someone does pick up the phone, you don't know how helpful they'll be and whether the schedule might change during the day. I also can't find any details as to the layout of each complex and the quality of the individual cinemas, so you'd need to do some recon to figure out which theatres are best at your local complex.

At this point it looks like my best course of action is to drive further to newer complexes like Hoyts Watergardens or Village Sunshine in search of more consistent picture and sound, or else head into the city.

To be fair, I'm sure some Village and Greater Union cinemas are just as bad – the Village complex at Airport West has also been there for decades and the cinemas were pretty shabby last time we went there.

With Guardians of the Galaxy II coming out soon, there's no way I'm taking my family back to Hoyts Highpoint to risk watching it on a shabby screen. If Hoyts expects me to pay top dollar to see a movie they can at least deliver a decent picture.

Which cinemas will you favour this long weekend? How do you find the sound and picture quality?


This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald's home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


Comments

    My wife and I have only just recently moved to Melbourne, and we've been to see several movies so far at Village Werribee Plaza and I really don't have any complaints so far. We buy our tickets via Telstra ($12.50 each the majority of the time) and get snacks from Woolies/Coles to keep the price down.

    I've been to see a few movies in years past at Hoyts Melbourne Central, and I'd forgotten how expensive full price tickets are!!

    Damn, didnt think Hoyts was still around. All of them out my way packed up and closed down years ago and all got replace with united cinemas (at $18 a standard ticket?!?!).
    I blame movie marathons for the destruction, absolutely no security, 1x teen staff per cinema to total 5 and people go crazy watching 6-8 hours of movies back to back without being allowed to leave between movies for a break resulting in trashed cinemas.
    I still enjoy my local cinemas, tickets are still $5 and all you need are some disposable shoes but apart from that its great and the smell only gets better with age ;)

    Any time I have friends over to watch a movie, they comment that this is better than the cinema. Picture wise unless I get one of the larger cinema's or cinemax from my viewing distance the TV is quite a similar size. Then add in the fact that I've got quite a good surround sound system and you're not just sat randomly in a giant room, with the comfort to go to the toilet or grab a snack if you want, and the cinema is pretty unappealing unless it's genuinely a date.

    I can watch MA or R rated movies without that weirdo who cackles uncomfortably every time something scares them, and I can watch G/PG movies without the grandma who loudly explains everything to her grandchildren the entire movie.

    Now if I could just watch current movies without pirating them!

    Been to Airport West once as they had $9.50 Tuesday, can't remember the movie, might have been a Spiderman, however, all I do remember is my backside going numb for 24 hours afterwards due to the no-padding seating.

    May I suggest to be safe and go to Crown Casino's Village Cinemas for Guardians 2, that seems to be the only cinema I go to that way spending money, like in your examples you feel like you are getting your monies worth.

    I would say that one of the biggest turns off to going to the cinemas is the fact that there are 15 minutes of ads that we see everyday on the TV.

    I went to Wallis to see Beauty and the Best the other week, and in that 15 minutes before the movie, we saw 1 movie trailer. I complained to Wallis about it but they haven't responded. Probably because I called them greedy

      Only 15? You got off lucky. It's 25-30 in most recent sessions I've been to.

      This^

      I go to the cinemas to see a movie, Not to see Ads. If i wanted that id watch normal tv.

      Given they all have allocated seating and you pay a credit card surcharge to buy online anyway, just show up 10-15 minutes late when the trailers are ending.

    Harbourtown on the Gold Coast is the best cinema, not only are the tickets like $9 for a normal session, with gold class only $21 and the food is reasonably priced and taste amazing.

    Your all missing out on the simple pleasures of my once a week visit to the movies. I very rarely watch a movie at home, and when I do it's normally something Netflix has just produced that's not going to be found at the cinema.

    Cinema's are gross. The last time I went to one (Village Cinema's Glenorchy) the screen was stained in a few places and one of the speakers was crackling. I had a free ticket so it didn't cost me anything, but it's unacceptable to charge for that.

    Unfortunately I think the author has gone to one of the few Hoyts that hasn't been refurbished as yet. The Redcliffe Hoyts has far better amenities for the price than my 2 local event cinemas, Strathpine which smells like and 80's porn theater and North Lakes with tickets in a standard cinema starting at $2.50 more for a standard seat theater.

    I saw Star Wars at Event Cinemas in Top Ryde and was very impressed. Great seats with ample room both for leg and elbows. Steeply raked seating so you never need to look at the back of someone's head. Fantastic screen and as far as I remember good sound. All in all a top experience which meant we as a family went back to Event for the next movie we wanted to see.

    On the other hand I can relate to the torn and stained screens as I had to put up with this at the local cinema in Albury whilst living there a little while ago.

    This is just extra evidence as to why I enjoy staying home, to stream a movie or TV show.

    Agreed - Hoyts Highpoint is below average. Hoyts are in the process of upgrading their cinemas for wide, pleather, reclining seats with plenty of space between rows. I now prefer it over Village and has tempted me to be back in the cinema to watch movies rather than waiting for them to be available on Netflix or Bluray. Hoyts Victoria Gardens has had the new cinemas for a while but as I've moved back to the west of Melbourne, Watergardens is now my closest and has recently completed their upgrade of their cinemas. Enjoy!

    Go to Village. Book online and you'll see what cinema you're getting as well as choosing your seats. Haven't been to a bad Villag cinemas ever. Rivoli, century city, jam factory, crown - all good.

    Our credit card rewards program has the option to spend our points on Gold Class tickets for Event Cinemas, so that's now the only time we go to the cinema to see a movie. Gives us about six movies per year for the two of us, which pretty much corresponds to the movies we would go out to see anyway.

    You should try the Sun theatre in Yarraville. The prices are similar to hoyts and their theatres are lovely. Some of the smaller ones are more akin to gold class but without the high ticket price.

    There are 3 Hoyts Cinemas in QLD and they have recently fit out every cinema with large electric recliners, at the expense of seating capacity. I'm usually an Event or Dendy patron, first time recently to see Beauty and the Beast and it was far better value than Gold Class. and just as comfortable.

    I just go on gumtree and buy cheaper tickets. Just search E-Cine or Movie Tickets on gumtree and you will see how much cheaper :) I haven't paid full price in ages. I go with friends time to time.. costs around $25 all up for 2 most of the time...

    We see 20-30 movies a year and there is a total lack of attention to detail rife with both Hoyts and Event Cinemas in Australia and its just not good enough. I go to experience a movie not have it ruined by simple things that should never be an issue if anyone is remotely paying attention to Quality Assurance at a Cinema Complex. In my local area alone:
    -Hoyts Blacktown and Wetherill Park NSW both have LED Strip lighting in their "Xtreme" Screens that throw light on to the screen and ruin the images.
    -vMax Parramatta has hall lights that cast on to the screen and allows sun to shine on the screen in afternoon sessions because they lock the cinema doors open.
    -Dirty screens and over worn seats in across their other smaller cinema's
    -Hoyts' much advertised recliners are terrible for reclining on as they offer no head support, you end up watching the ceiling or not reclining, Who chose them? Did they watch a movie with them?
    -Castle Towers and Mac Park Event cinemas are cramped, have small screens and are overdue for refurbishment.

    As mentioned above, the only half decent experience to be had in Western Sydney is at Top Ryde vMax1 but it doesn't have Atmos, I've had Atmos at home for 2 years now....

    You may argue these are nitpicks but we have to pay a premium to go to the cinemas and this stuff shouldn't even be a factor, I can go to the movies in a suburb 2 hours out of LA and have a better movie going experience than any of the "Premium" experiences offered in Sydney. Shit even things like Popcorn. There is NO excuse that I should received cold popcorn with unpopped kernals, that shit should be filtered out when I'm paying the prices a theatre here expects me to pay, yet it is a common occurrence. As far as I'm concerned the pain Cinema chains are feeling from Piracy is deserved as they are not offering a service worth the asking price.

    Event Cinemas Morley and Innaloo in Perth are pretty good. No complaints about them.

    I used to work for Greater Union when they owned the Innaloo cinema complex. This was in the day before it became the 11 cinema multiplex it is now (I was foundation staff there too)

    The "Metro" cinema as it was called then hadn't been renovated since it opened in 1972! We still had the 70's 'flower power' psychedelic carpet in purples and pinks in 1987 - 1992! The wall curtains couldn't be touched as the cord that held them up was extremely brittle and would snap at a gentle breath. The projectionist was forever climbing in the roof space to tie them back up again. Thankfully it all got ripped out and replaced when they added the other cinemas

    Reading cinemas at melton should be your next try. They aren't the best but $10 Saturdays.

    Luckily at our local Hoyts they've dropped ticket prices to $10 .. 'permanently'. So I don't feel quite so ripped off when I see the filthy seats that haven't been replaced in 20 years.

    Hi Read your article and must say your on point. not only are there screens terrible but there seats and cinemas are dirty. They make you wait to clean up cinema and I must say do they stand in there playing a game of catch the popcorn or lets see if I can spill a drink.
    I no longer go to Hoyts of Village cinemas any more due to the crap state there cinemas are in.
    I prefer going to the Sun theatre in Yarraville. Kino and the other hop cinemas.

    They have great seats well looked after cinemas and you can also have a nice cold beer with your movie.

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