Cinestar vs Reel Cinemas
Going to the movies might just be UAE’s favourite pastime, so how will two of the UAE’s biggest brands fare when we put them up against each other?
Going to the movies is surely the UAE’s favourite past time. Thanks to the scorching temperatures, beating the heat via a movie with friends, family or your better half is the preferred route of escapism for many. Cinestar were the first in the region to spot this desire in the Emirates, and the first to respond when they established their chain of cinemas at Deira City Centre. Opening with an impressive cinema house of 12 different theaters (not to mention an even more impressive pricing of Dh30) Cinestar was the first of anything the UAE had ‘scene’. Sorry.
Fast forward a couple of years to the UAE post-Cinestar. The cinema-going culture had become well established in the UAE, with various cinema chains popping up across the Emirates. Then comes Reel Cinemas, and theater was taken to the next level—well the next three levels, given how massive Reel is. With flashy state of the art screens, and more than 23 screens at the first Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall, Reel is taking the movie going experience in the UAE up a notch. We’ll call it a draw.
CineStar, owned by Majid Al Futtaim , currently operates 50 cinema screens across 5 locations in Ajman (Ajman City Centre), 3 Cinemas in Dubai (Deira City Centre, Mall Of The Emirates & Mirdif City Centre) & 1 cinema in Abu Dhabi (Marina Mall).
Though they may boast 22 screens in one location, Reel Cinemas, a joint-venture between Cathay Organization of Singapore and Emaar Properties, cowers in comparison to Cinestar. Although Reel is catching up, with its new branch in Marina Mall, it has some way to go.
Cinestar is pretty average when it comes to movie choice. We’re not complaining – Cinestar has a pretty decent variety of films that are screened – but there isn’t anything that sets them apart from the rest. Although this FIFA World Cup they won brownie points with footie fans when they screened live matches on their gigantic screens.
The Picturehouse is Reel’s secret weapon to win this section. Apart from their 22 mainstream screens, Reel also screen independent arty films every week at the Picturehouse. For bringing some much desired variety to Dubai’s film scene, Reel gets our vote for this one.
The Cinestar Cinemas web portal is easy to navigate through, though Kipp has had a few problems with the site being ‘down’ a couple of times over the years. Although the online booking fee is higher than others at Dh10, Cinestar gets our vote for this one because its website does have an F&B purchase section. Buying your nachos online so you can jump the queue? Now that definitely is worthy of mention and a point.
No complaints (for once) for the Dubai Mall website, which is also fast, clean and easy to use. The online booking fee is lower than Cinestar at Dh7.50. But where are my nachos?
Sure Cinestar has a special “Gold Class.” Sure there are special chairs and leg rests. And yes, they have special silver service so you don’t have to wait in line to get your food. But, do they have pillows?
Reel at Marina was “the country’s first boutique cinema where high-end gastronomic delights and drinks would be delivered to seats. To further add to visitors’ comfort, blankets and pillows would be provided at a nominal charge too. The seats are all recliners, with special ergonomic features.” Boutique Cinema? Need Kipp say more. Well, maybe: pillows.
Smart Cinestar has realized the value of loyalty programs and have not-so-recently launched their own loyalty program called CineBuzz. The benefits of belonging to Cinebuzz also includes a free movie after every 10 visits, a free popcorn after first 5 visits, a complimentary Gold Class ticket when you attend with a paying guest during your birthday month and chances to win stuff.
Reel Cinemas doesn’t have a loyalty program. Boo.
Why does cinema food all taste the same no matter which chain go to? Cinestars around UAE serve up the usual cinema fare; but be warned you may have to struggle through some long queues to get to your food.
As far as food goes, Reel Cinema is pretty much like your average cinema in the Emirates. However, the fact that they have food counters on more than one level of their cinema complex means that you will not have to wait through long lines. What is more, the various groovy (did we just say groovy?) lounges provide a great environment for nibbling pre/post movie.