China has the most cinemas worldwide – but should it value venue quality over quantity?

Changsha, China – Two years ago, China surpassed the United States as the country boasting the most cinemas worldwide – quite a notable feat, considering the latter’s historic relationship with the silver screen.

Since, though, the Chinese have been inundated with a steady oversupply of venues. In 2018, the country-wide total reached 60,079, an 18 per cent increase from the year before. But the increase hasn’t resulted in box office growth – on the contrary, the first quarter of 2019 witnessed an eight per cent drop in moviegoers.

Earlier this year, we asked if mindful seating might sharpen the allure of the cinema-going experience in general – in an age of streaming services, cinema owners need to be more conscientious of customer’s needs. And, lest they not forget, aesthetic needs are a part of that. This consideration, at least, seems to have factored into the seductive interiors of a One Plus Partnership-designed cinema in Changsha.

The Hong Kong-based interior design firm is no stranger to building dynamic movie theatres – in them, fantasy often makes its way from the pictures to the interiors; last year, they, without contest, won the Frame award for Cinema of the Year. The Changsha Jinyi venue is no exception to their prowess in cinema design – it was inspired by superheroes, but the aesthetic is not presented in an adolescent way. The homage is more abstract, relying on visual illusion to convey paladin qualities.

For example: Flash from DC Comics’ Justice League jets around in high speed, leaving lines of light and motion behind him –  this kind of high-motion movement was visually interpreted by One Plus through coherent, contrasting lines of red and green throughout the space’s surfaces. The designers wanted to draw on the feeling of only being able to catch a shadowy glimpse of something and played with lighting, seemingly in a perma-state of disappearing and reappearing, to do so.

Cinemas executed with enticing interior design – such as the Changsha Jinyi venue – may help balance out the box office scales in China, as a veritable, inspired spatial experience remains something that at-home viewing just can’t provide.

Location 4F, Fusheng Mall, No. 360, Xinglian Rd, Kaifu District, Changsha

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