In 2017, going to the cinema can be an expensive proposition.
Ticket prices are going up, buying snacks is disproportionately expensive depend on where you live (we've researched it), and some might argue that the output in cinemas is becoming more stale and repetitive. While some of these may be true and some of it might be subjective, cinema remains one of the few things that people of all ages and classes can come together and enjoy.
It doesn't have to be stale, stuffy arthouse films, it doesn't have be rehashed and rebooted CGI-driven explosion reels, it can be whatever you want it it to be. Anyone who lives film will you tell that the bigger the screen, the bigger the experience. Sure, home cinema packages are now becoming more and more affordable and, yes, there's nobody checking their phone and distracting you and, yes, it's a hell of a lot less expensive than going to the cinema.
Still, it's an experience. You lock yourself into a dark room and just let the experience wash over you. That's what cinemas do, and Savoy 1 was the place to go for that kind of immersion. Anyone who's ever set foot inside it will tell you that it's one of the few grand rooms left in Dublin. Recently, IMC Cinemas - the company which operates Savoy Cinema - confirmed that it is considering plans to close Savoy's main screen and split it in two.
For anyone who's been in Savoy 1, they'll know that it spreads out in a sea of deep red, with curtains draped over the sides of the screen. The sound, when it kicks in, can blow you out of it if you're unfortunate enough to be on the wing seats. If you're too near the screen, you're craning your neck back to take it all. It is by no means perfect, but the best places often have their own quirks and blemishes that you love all the same.
There's nothing sterile about Savoy 1 and there's nothing diffident about it either. It's a cinema. It was a grand cinema at one point, but it still remains a cinema. It doesn't come with VIP seats and it doesn't have plushy leather material.
It's one of the few remaining cinemas in Dublin City Centre. Ask any Dub and they'll probably be able to tell you the first film they saw at Savoy 1, what year it was, who they went with and what they thought of the cinema. It's such a cultural touchstone for the city, hosting premieres that have featured everyone from Tom Cruise to Julie Andrews, Russell Crowe to Will Ferrell, Steven Spielberg to our own Jim Sheridan and John Butler.
Savoy has been altered and changed throughout the years, so this change is, on perspective, nothing new. 1969 saw the grand room closed to make way for a second screen. In 1975, the restaurant closed and was converted to a third screen. Around this time, the Savoy took in almost two million patrons per year. By 1988, the cinema had lost a third of its capacity and now had a total of six screens in the process. This year, Savoy 2 was closed and, as it stands, its capacity is now at 1,984. On its opening, Savoy could fit 2,789 people.
Savoy Cinema is a business and while it's not beholden to anyone as to what it does with its own property, it's still an institution of Dublin and consideration should be afforded on that basis.