So there’s a new cinema in Bintulu, and it opened it’s doors to the public for the first time yesterday (18 April 2018) albeit on a trial basis. (More on that below.)
Now if you stay in Bintulu, you will know that a cinema is a highly desired yet long awaited amenity here – even longer than before the previous cinema closed its operations in 2016. Why do I say that? We will get to that in a bit.
First, let me show you what the hype is all about!!!
Disclaimer: This is not a paid/sponsored post but an honest patron’s feedback.
Bearing the name Ashtar Galactic Cinema (AGC), it is not part of the usual cinema chain that can be found in Malaysia (like GSC or TGV). Not sure why that particular name was chosen, but if you stay till the end of this post, I’ll share with you a fun fact about it. =)
Trial Basis and Free Tickets
AGC has 6 halls and for 3 days* (yesterday, today and tomorrow), it was offering FREE movie tickets to everyone. All you needed to do is go to the cinema, get in line (the queue was super long yesterday morning) and get the movie ticket(s) of your choice, depending on seat availability of the selected showtime of course. Me and a few friends were fortunate enough to get hold of tickets for last night’s viewing. Some are going tonight.
Our little group was watching 2 different movies at about the same time and so were divided into different halls. The movie in Hall 2 was already playing for about 25 minutes before our show in Hall 3 began. As we entered our still quiet hall, a friend pointed out that we could hear the sound (not very distinctly but still audible) coming from the hall beside us. Thin walls, perhaps?
The smell in the hall was crisp (but not crispy okay lol) as can be expected when everything around is new and fresh out of packaging etc. The seats were a bit hard for me but that’s probably only because they’re still new. A plus is that it allows you to lean back at a slight angle. Good for those seats closer to the screen I suppose. However, as with most cinemas, try NOT to sit too close to the screen (like the first 3 rows) unless you particularly enjoy a stiff neck after the movies, like what happened to friends in the other hall. We were seated at row F (6th row from the screen), which is good though not quite the sweet spot.
The movie screen and visuals was clear. No comments on that. However, in our hall 3, the surround sound wasn’t that great. It didn’t really feel like we were “surrounded”, if you get what I’m saying. And friends in hall 2 said that the audio in their hall sometimes were not very audible or were muffled. Maybe the management can look into the audio settings of the halls.
Temperature in hall for me was okay. A bit colder would be nice though. We were watching a late night show so perhaps they adjusted the temperature so we would not freeze inside. Speaking of temperature…
Waiting Area/Ticket Counter/Snack Bar
Now this could really use some improvement.
- Air-conditioning. Unfortunately, the cinema is located in the non-airconditioned street mall-eque Bintulu Commerce Square (BCS). This means that airconditioning is only when you enter the shops/units. For AGC, this makes all areas apart from the movie hall rather unpleasant. We were watching a late night show and were already sweating before we entered the hall. This is Malaysia weather. Air-conditioning would be good.
- Some benches in the waiting area would be good. That will be a challenge though, as how the waiting area is just a small area in between the ticket counter and snack bar. There are seats along the BCS walkways in front of other shops but that’s not so ideal. Everyone was just standing around in the rather warm and humid waiting area. I could only imagine how unpleasant it must’ve felt for those who were queuing yesterday morning…
- Ticket counter and the ticketing system was good. The staff was great! Entertaining queries about showtimes and available seats patiently. Keep up the good work guys!
- Snack Bar. Tried the popcorn and drink. The popcorn wasn’t the best and could be improved. More food options would also be good.
- Overall layout of this outside area is a bit smaller than what you would normally expect of a cinema. One oddity I noted is that the main screen that they used to show movie trailers is near the entrance to the cinema area and at eye level where people will be walking past to get to the waiting area/ticket counter/snack bar. One can’t really stay there and watch the screen for long even if they wanted to. I reckon the screen would be better off above the space between the ticket counters and snack bar and before the entrance to the halls.
Since they were giving free tickets and it was a trial basis, it was acceptable that they were showing rather dated movies. On offering were: Insidious, Jumanji, The Greatest Showman and Tomb Raider, the latter being the least dated.
Remember how earlier in this post, I mentioned that a cinema was a long awaited amenity here even when the previous cinema was still around? This was one of the many reasons. The previous cinema showed dated movies after most hardcore movie-goers would have already watched them. This of course led to low patronage and eventually, they closed. (There were a lot of things lacking with them, but this is the main one.)
Dear AGC, I sincerely hope this will NOT be the case when you start operations proper…
I mentioned above that this was a “trial basis”. What that meant was, after tomorrow, we are not exactly sure if it will still be showing any shows the next day until… indefinitely. The management has not made themselves very clear on that front. (They did start business proper the following day!) That said, everybody is deeply hoping that they WILL be showing “Avengers: Infinity War” that is set to be released next week! And they did not dissapoint!
The staff of the cinema only said their next show “may be” Avengers. *prays*
And there you have it. My honest review of the new cinema in Bintulu – Ashtar Galactic Cinema (AGC).
Have you tried it? What did you think about it? Do share in the comments.
And as promised, fun fact about AGC:
The new cinema is called Ashtar Galactic Cinema (AGC)…in the 70s there was believed to be an alien broadcast from an Ashtar Galactic Command (AGC) 👽 The truth is out there.
*extended from 2 days