Dec, 2017: Vox Cinema Max opens in Bahrain at the spanking new Avenue Mall. Along with the ‘Max’ cinema comes ‘Theatre By Rhodes’.  All this is one big commercial for them, a free advertisement, but it wasn’t supposed to be, it was supposed to be a simple news like report as we do at www.whodoeswhat.tv. OK guilty, the report has been rosy’d up a bit, since how can one report on a big fat screen with bellowing Dolby Atmos sound, through a video camera. Very defeatist. So, here we tell you what it is all about.

Max, is the largest auditorium and smart it is too. Bum pampering wide seats and even a sort of class section. The sound when the movies are playing is loud but inoffensive and swirling. All in all, quite impressive as with the Theatre By Rhodes which we’ll delve into below.

Cinema audiences have certainly increased considerably over the last decade or so, with cinemas refurbishing to cater for the experience and 3D pushing boundaries. With Netflix and movies on tap and home 4K TVs, it  must be competition, but there is something to be said about the joy of the very big screen and a multi channel loud movie all encompassing. Next to IMAX the VOX MAX, is certainly engaging and a very big screen (20 metres). However, asking around associates, it is surprising to discover that all but one maintained they never go to the cinema because of all the disturbances. What are they missing?  There was talk of an Israeli invented jamming network, which jammed mobile phone reception in enclosed spaces. If true, in the Arab Middle East of course they will not sell very many at all if even one. Lack of etiquette is a worry in the Middle East in particular, so if the loud playback can drown out inconsiderate, rude arrogant morons who so often frequent the cinemas with their mobile phones switched on – then bring it on baby. These hideous, uncaring and crass yobs (women too) proceed to talk all through the movie.  We even witness babies crying during midnight adult graded only movies. No rules! No ‘Forgive them for the know not what they do’. It is just ill mannered and primitive, lacking moral education. Hopefully, Max will help overcome this.  Michael Walsh informs us that they have Gestapo roaming the cinema watching for this and stopping people spoiling other’s pleasure. (Those are not her exact words though).

Gary Rhodes is a pretty well known TV chef and this is the first time www.whodoeswhat.tv had heard of his association with VOX Cinema. Dubai has it, but Dubai has everything it seems and now Bahrain has it! So what is it? ‘Dinner movie’ if you like. Some might think this an odd concept to play with in the Middle East, where alcohol is always an issue, but obviously it is working.

There are restaurants within the Theatre By Rhodes (it is all part of the Cineplex), you can have a cocktail or meal before the show, or order up and eat during the show, since the seats are like business class on an airliner. Lift up the table and snack away. Waiters will bring your orders. This sort of contradicts the paragraph above whereby distractions are abundant during the movies. VOX has obviously considered this, because the Theatre By Rhodes are very spacious indeed and it is more like that of a rich Baron or Baroness having their own movie theatre in the mansion basement and inviting guests around for a movie night and dinner. As mentioned, the only thing missing is the nabeeth (wine).  No alcohol (as yet anyway). Booze or no booze, it caters for a certain element only and not such a big deal, but it is a considerable chunk of the population who don’t mind a wet when out.  In Bahrain that is subject to many factors. First; the building or business owner in most cases refuses to have alcohol on the premises, due to religious belief, so it is not always the government.  Second; the outlet needs a license and those are easily issued to outlets in certain areas. As with all of the very many large malls in Bahrain, none have outlets serving alcohol unless an hotel is perched on top it, such as The City Centre. We used to have a few, but the bigots moaned too much and the ‘live and let live’ co-existence sort of dissolved as did the outlets. The same happened at the Pearl in Doha. The Avenues Mall has no direct hotel attached but several in the Bahrain Bay around, so it would not be much of a surprise if alcohol did eventually find its way into the mall for some outlets, especially as show going numbers are likely to fall towards 2019.

Cinemas are due to open in Saudi Arabia within the year (2018) and further more, women will be able to drive to them. Bahrain enjoys massive attendance by visitors across the water, it must be a huge part of the revenue. Who knows what the figure is, but many millions cross the causeway every year. Of those, most go to the movies. Maybe the censorship will be too much to handle and they still come back to Bahrain where the cuts are not quite so deep always and they can quench their thirst and enjoy the nightlife in Juffair after that movie. That is another story though. On that note, censorship is pretty much a pointless exercise really when one considers that absolutely everything known to man and its behaviour is readily available on the Internet and so easily obtained. It is a hard road or Rhode, but eventually one has to give in.
This cinema complex should do very well indeed.