Five years ago, I was desperate to see the new Harry Potter film. I had a 3mth old baby which I didn’t want to leave with a sitter, so the husband and I decided to take her too.
And it was fine – she slept most of the way through, woke at a few of the loud bits, and on the whole it was fine. But I was under no illusions – had she made any noise, I would have had to leave, as this was an evening showing, and the adults in the cinema quite rightly would have had no patience with a baby mumbling and squeaking through their film.
So I was really pleased to see last week that Empire Cinema’s have started offering ‘Parent & Baby’ screenings at nine of their cinemas – and happily agreed to go along and see what it was like.
There’s only one showing a week (our local Empire is at Tower Park, Poole, and their parent & baby screening is 11 a.m. on a Monday), but it is for one of the new releases – a great way for a stuck-at-home parent to catch up with a new film without worrying about a babysitter.
We went to see Hope Springs (which, incidentally, is flipping brilliant), and thanks to some roadworks issues only managed to arrive 5 minutes before the start time. But it was fine – we didn’t expect it to be very busy and in fact the ticket office didn’t bother allocating us seats as there were only two other people in there.
As the film started the husband and I were sitting with two elderly couples – with not a baby in sight… But as the trailers got underway one Mum with pushchair slipped in. Phew.
Once the adverts and trailers had finished and the main film began we were slightly startled by the fact that the lights came UP, not down. We ended up shifting a few seats sideways so that we weren’t directly under a light, but as we became engrossed in the story we stopped noticing the lights.
The whole thing was fab – and if I had a young baby I’d totally make it a regular visit. To be able to go and see the latest films on the big screen, without worrying about the noise if the baby wakes up, is genius. The lights go on (only dimmed) deliberately, so that young children won’t be concerned by the dark (parent & baby screenings are for children up to age 2) – and the sound is reduced too, so that there’ll be no scary EXTRA LOUD bits to wake sleeping babies.
Changing mats are ready at the back of the theatre so you don’t have to miss the film to change the baby, and there are travel cots available to use if you need one.
I chatted to the one Mum who was there with her (4mth old) baby, and she said she’d used the parent & baby screenings 4 or 5 times now, and it was brilliant for her.
The Empire cinema website does state that “These screenings are for parents/guardians and babies only. No baby, no entry.” but Tower Park didn’t enforce this rule – as I said the only other people in there were two elderly couples. When I spoke to them, they said they also happen to like the parent & baby screenings as they don’t like the usual super-loud volume, and prefer the dim lighting for finding their way in/out whilst the film is on.
My only reservation would be the wide 0-2 age range – I’m not convinced we’d have had such a good time if there had been a handful of restless toddlers charging about!
To see if there is an Empire Parent & Baby screening near you, just visit this page. If you have a young baby and are missing those cinema trips and seeing the latest films on the big screen – or are just looking for something new to do – it’s a brilliant idea.