Cinema Wars: Karachi’s best spots for a movie night
Published in the Express Tribune on 8th Sept 2013
Fancy a night out at the movies? The cinema has become one of Karachi’s favourite past-times in recent years. With the opening of Nueplex in Phase 8, Karachi now has four family-friendly premium cinemas. But how do they compare and which offers the best experience to movie-goers?
The first premium family cinema in Karachi, Cineplex, opened in 2005. However, it is now in dire need of refurbishment. One cinema-goer described the experience as being like going to see a movie in someone’s basement home theatre.
Location: Seaview, Defence near The Village Restaurant
No. of Screens: 5
Ticket Price: Rs400
Convenient for Clifton and Defence, Cineplex is not that busy. The more popular cinemas have a higher turnover of movies, shunting even popular films to bizarre screening times very quickly. Cineplex is good for catching films that you’ve missed elsewhere.
The seats are poky and the screens are fairly small — you’ve had it if someone tall sits in front of you. Cineplex has no 3D screens and apparently, also periodically has electricity problems. It also has only one exit and no cell signals, which isn’t great from a security point of view.
Verdict: Only worth going if you’ve exhausted all other options, and maybe not even then..
Location: At Atrium Mall in Saddar, close to Zainab Market
No. of Screens: 3
Rs350 Cinemas A&B (Rs450 for 3D)
Rs450 Cinema D (Rs550 for 3D)
The first 3D Cinema in Karachi, Atrium, has been a runaway success ever since it opened. Despite a less than ideal location and a sometimes dodgy crowd, Atrium is most people’s first choice in premium cinema.
Atrium has roomy seats and large screens. It has excellent 3D, a great ambience and clean bathrooms. Last but not least, it has the best popcorn in town.
Atrium’s biggest downside is its terrible location. While convenient for both Defence/Clifton and the KDA side of town, Atrium has minimal parking and awful valet service. It’s near a place that protest marches go through every time there’s unrest in the city. The mall and cinema attracts a very mixed crowd, and women by themselves are prone to getting ogled at by packs of young men. Atrium is also a victim of its own success. It has only three screens and limited capacity, so getting seats is difficult and can involve repeated trips to the mall. The telephone booking system tends to get inundated quickly and hence, is unreliable.
Verdict: The best overall movie experience in town, but location and limited capacity are both issues.
Located in Clifton, Cinepax is convenient for the Defence/Clifton crowd. Smaller than Atrium and Nueplex, Cinepax aims for a more luxurious experience with premium screens, recliner seats and quality snacks.
Location: At Ocean Mall, Clifton near 2 Talwar
No. of Screens: 3
Silver Screen Rs450 (Rs600 for 3D)
Gold Screen Rs750
Platinum Screen Rs1,000 (Rs1,200 for 3D)
Cinepax has a great location and huge snack selection including burgers and fries. It offers recliner seats and blankets to counter the chill factor in the premium screens. It has lovely bathrooms and is the only cinema to offer online booking. It’s perfect for a girls’ night out due to location and crowd quality.
Screens sizes aren’t huge and the 3D, while good, is not as great as Atrium and Nueplex. The seats in the silver screen are not very comfortable. The escalators to the cinema are not conveniently placed, which is annoying as the lift service is sporadic. You can sometimes hear movies in adjoining cinema halls, and low capacity means it’s difficult to get seats. Crucially, many people have complained the popcorn is always stale.
Verdict: Great location, but silver screen should be better. The premium screens offer a better experience but are pricey if you go the movies often. Thankfully, Cinepax say they’ve fixed the popcorn — stale popcorn ruins movie night.
Nueplex is part of The Place, a dedicated entertainment complex that has just opened in Phase 8. It has a huge capacity and state-of-the-art equipment.
Location: Phase 8, Defence
No. of Screens: 5
Rs500 Cinema 1-4 (Rs600 for 3D)
Rs1,000 Royal Screen (Rs1,250 for 3D)
Nueplex has huge screens, a good 3D system, efficient telephone bookers and an attractive ambience. The royal theatre offers food service, a dedicated waiting area and recliner seats. The popcorn is delicious.
The bathrooms are clean but very small. Nueplex is the priciest of the cinemas, for everything from tickets to snacks. It is very far for those not living in Defence, and is in a quite unpopulated area. The standard cinema seats are just a tad less comfy than Atrium.
Verdict: It is a little far for those who don’t live in Defence, but in terms of screen size and overall cinematic experience, it is only rivaled by Atrium.