This Friday, Selfridges adds a cinema to its formidable array of departments, concessions and that terrifying skate bowl in menswear. Located in the bit of the basement that once housed HMV, it comes complete with three state-of-the-art screens, a cocktail lounge and a private members bit. To kick off, ‘Frozen II’ and ‘Le Mans ’66’ will be screening.
Olympic Studios founder Stephen Burdge, the man behind the project, has plenty of previous in cinematic transformations. He turned Barnes’s Olympic Studios – once frequented by Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones – into a community cinema, and fitted Archlight’s three snug screens into the railway arches at Battersea Power Station. ‘We like interesting spaces and iconic buildings,’ he says. ‘Our USP is sound and we’ve come to Selfridges with the same recording-studio-quality speakers.’ Prepare for Elsa’s icy powers to translate into a serious sonic boom.
As Burdge explains, no stone has been left unturned in ensuring the best cinemagoing experience. ‘Like at our other sites, we’re using the comfiest Norwegian reclining seats.’ Even your bag of popcorn will have been mulled over at length. ‘We’ve spent a lot of time finding bags that don’t rustle and food that doesn’t smell.’
The Cinema at Selfridges – first trialled in store as a pop-up five years ago – will boast a 70-seat main screen, with a second 59-seater and a third 28-seater as well. Rows of chairs will be curved in line with each screen. Dolby Atmos and laser projection will be fitted throughout, with facilities to screen 35mm. The programming will be a mix of ‘strongly independent and good commercial’. ‘When you’re in there, we want it to be about the film,’ says Burdge. ‘Everything else just adds to it.’