HMVCurzon entrance
The high street view of HMVCurzon main entrance ©2009 Jan Vincent-Rudzki

CD and DVD retailer HMV has got together with Curzon cinemas to launch a new cinema in London, HMV Curzon.

Curzon has five cinemas around London. They are known for being a mixture of art house and general cinema. A bit more of a cosy place to view a film, rather than one of those big ‘plastic’ cinemas.

HMV on the other hand is known for its 280 UK retail shops. As well as the declining market for CDs it majors on selling movies on DVDs (also now unfortunately declining!). It has been busy diversifying its business and cinemas built into their stores are the latest venture.

Above the HMV shop in Wimbledon in south London together they have constructed, their prototype, a three screen with state of the art digital projection and made it cosy to boot with a licensed café bar. And best of all it opens today!

Simon Fox, Chief Executive of HMV Group, and Philip Knatchbull, Chief Executive of Curzon Artificial Eye, with Nipper the dog mascot of HMV! © Jan Vincent-Rudzki

Last Saturday the shoppers of Wimbledon had a chance to check out the place and this Wednesday the press had their chance. This time Philip Knatchbull, Chief Executive of Curzon Artificial Eye, and Simon Fox, Chief Executive of HMV Group, where on hand along with Nipper the dog mascot of HMV!

I am temped here to note that Nipper was of particular interest; he was showing his nerves about the venture, shivering in the hands of Curzon’s Philip Knatchbull! Maybe he was giving the game away as this is probably more of a risk for HMV than Curzon?

For this pilot cinema they have utilised the non-trading second floor space above the existing HMV store. The store itself has been refurbished so as to match in quality the high quality finish to the cinema above. The entrance to both is from the front. The shop and cinema will have difference opening times, which overlap, but the design works well when either of them is closed.

HMVCurzon manager Karolina Kus (with Nipper), Radio Times Film Editor Andrew Collins and British director Shane Meadows cut the ribbon © Stephen Payne

On Wednesday Evening before the opening weekend there was the special gala screening and Q&A with British director Shane Meadows for Le Donk & Scor-zay-ze. It was hosted by Andrew Collins, film Editor for the Radio Times. He was his jolly usual self and did a good job about being enthusiastic about the new cinema and Shane Meadows new film.

I was not too great that evening due to lack of sleep the previous night and unfortunately although a good example of the type of low budget film that this cinema can accommodate along side the main stream it was not really to my taste. A few of the audience seem to find it hilarious. My colleague Jan Vincent-Rudzki (who lives in Wimbledon!) thought is was interesting. However for me I had to keep being prodded to stop me falling asleep, even at its 70 minutes length!

The cinema itself does have great potential. I believe it could well serve both HMV and Curzon well by being able to show a flexible and diverse programming schedule with the ability to respond to Wimbledon’s local demand. Maybe they should show the Wimbledon Tennis final for those that can’t get in on the day…

Over the weekend we will detail in another post what is meant by digital state of the art projection!

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