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Does exactly what it says on the card - Unlimited Cinema
Member Name: koshkha
Advantages: Great value if you use it
Disadvantages: An expensive piece of plastic if you don't
The upshot of this was that seeing a film at a 'proper' cinema meant an hour's drive each way to either Braintree or Ipswich. So when I moved to Northamptonshire, the lure of not one but TWO multiplexes in spitting distance was too strong to resist. At that time, the UGC cinema was on my route home from the office and I found it very difficult to drive past and not drop in especially as I was in temporary 'digs' waiting for a house purchase to go through. The UGC became my second home.
The first time I visited I discovered the Unlimited scheme.
How it works
For just £10.99 a month (it was £9.99 when I joined nearly 2 years ago) you can go to the cinema as often as you want. It really is that simple.
You can use your local cinema or any other Cineworld cinema, anywhere in the country - with the exception of the 4 West End Cinemas. The West End Unlimited deal is more expensive at £13.99 per month. I guess that's because the ticket prices are higher in the West End and they tend to get the films slightly earlier.
You can sign up for Unlimited at the cinema. It's a good idea to pop in and do this at a quiet time as nobody will thank you for tying up the booking staff at 7 pm on a Saturday evening.
They'll want some proof of identity and you'll need to fill in some forms. You'll also need to give bank details so that they can set up your direct debit. You will then have your photo taken and be given a temporary card that you can start to use straight away.
This card expires after 28 days by which time you SHOULD have your new cards. We didn't as they had been sent from France and instead of going to Sudbury in Suffolk they went to Sudbury in Canada. After reporting the non-arrival of the cards to the help-line (in France), duplicates were sent and my husband and I ended up with 3 cards each, none of which seemed to work. Thanks to the local cinema staff who were very helpful, it all got resolved eventually and now everything goes very smoothly..
What else do you get?
If you choose to, you get a fortnightly email from Cineworld telling you about current films and offers. I don't get this but I am signed up for weekly schedule alerts so I can easily check what's on without having to find the local papers or go looking for the website.
They can also send you mailings on competitions, food and drink offers and special events - I elected not to receive these but they may be interesting for some people.
Is it good value?
This is a case where you have to make your own value. If you don't use it, your Unlimited card will just be an expensive piece of plastic. It’s a bit like a gym membership; the more you use it, the better the deal - it's really that simple.
But, to help you assess the benefits, here are the normal prices:
Evening films - after 6 pm - full price adult ticket is £6.50. So you only need to see two films a month and you are quids-in. Films starting before 6 pm are much cheaper – from memory, about £3.80 which I think is fantastic value - so if you like to go off peak you need to see 4 films each month to benefit. Tuesdays for some bizarre and unfathomable reason are just £4.00 all day. Prices are reduced for Students, kids and OAPs and in each case, you’d need to do the maths and work out if it’s really going to be worth you signing up if you are in one of those groups and likely to go less than three or four times a month.
So, if you have lots of spare time and can go off peak, or if you are in one of the reduced-entry groups, you may be able to do your viewing for less on a pay as you go. But if you are a full-fee, evening viewing, film-hog who loves nothing more than to go into the cinema at 11 in the morning and come out 5 days later reeking of pop-corn and looking pale, this is the best bargain you'll ever get - and it beats hiding in the toilets or behind the seats and sneaking between screens.
What can't you do with Unlimited?
Normal customers (i.e. non-cardholders) can phone ahead or go online to book seats for big new releases. This would be handy if a blockbuster is coming out and you really want to see it. As far as I know, Unlimited card holders can't pre-book seats remotely but there's nothing to stop you popping in beforehand and getting your tickets at the cinema. There was a scheme at one time that you could book but only by calling a premium rate line. I think they gave up on that idea.
You can't transfer the tickets - well, in theory you might get away with it if you popped in early and bought the tickets with your card, gave the tickets to friends who then turn up later to use them. You might be successful but the staff ask to see your cards then you'd be scuppered. I've never been tempted to try it.
Living with Unlimited
Sunday morning, raining, Archers Omnibus over and can't quite face the ironing pile - pop down to the cinema and you'll probably have the place to yourself. I've been several times when I got my own personal screening and the whole place to myself.
Monday evening, nothing on the telly and no DVDs you fancy on the shelf - off to the cinema.
Friends or family visiting who haven't seen a film in yonks - whisk them off to the cinema, especially useful if you've run out of things to say. (They'll have to pay as usual unless they have cards too).
Just been made unemployed and need a bit of total escape - nothing beats a good film and cinema is better than DVD. Escape your troubles for a couple of hours.
Just been dumped by your girlfriend/boyfriend and want to lie low for a while - go and hide at the cinema. Sneak in a packed lunch and stay all day. (I've just realised how SAD that looks).
Gone away for the weekend and made a mistake - nothing to do, keeps raining and you don't know anyone? Check out the local Cineworld and go hide from the weather.
When you have an Unlimited card you don't agonise over choosing which film to see - you just go and see them all.
When you have an Unlimited card if you get a crap film you can just walk out and go and see another - none of that painful 'I've paid so I'm going to stay and suffer to the end'.
If you are a dooyoo member and you like reviewing films, Unlimited could be right up your street - just so long as there's a Cineworld 'just down the road'.
Film fans who go frequently and want to see EVERYTHING.
Anyone who lives within 30 mins of a Cineworld cinema.
Anyone who believes films are SO much better on a big screen and is already paying out more than £10.99 a month to have DVDs sent to them by one of the many DVD clubs or has a costly subscription to Sky Movies.
OK, YOU CAN STOP NOW IF YOU WANT TO BECAUSE THAT'S IT FOR THE DETAIL ON THE SCHEME BUT IF YOU KEEP READING THERE'S A BIT MORE ABOUT CINEWORLD.
UGC is now part of Cineworld - an international cinema group with 79 cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Jersey. UGC was previously French owned which used to cause a few muddles but seems to be resolved now.
Cineworld are committed to showing Bollywood or 'Asian interest' films twice a week. This usually means a single film showing once on Sunday and again on Monday. I have been a couple of times but did once sit through two and a half hours of a film in Hindi that had no subtitles (we just figured out more or less what was going on).
At my local cinema each screen has wheelchair access and wheel chair friendly spaces in the back row of the lower level of the cinema (i.e. before you get to the steps). They also do special showings of some of the films with subtitles for the hard of hearing or 'audio description' for the blind.
Range of Films
In any week Cineworld will show a broad range of films. There are usually 2-4 new introductions as well as 'previews' (films showing a few days before they go on full-time release). They have films categorised as 'customer recommendations' and 'kids recommendations' as well 'discovery' films which are recommended by Cineworld staff.
Even during half term or the school holidays you can generally find something to see - especially later in the evening
Many Cineworld cinemas are located in out of town shopping/entertainment areas with lots of local food options - mostly not very healthy but that's life these days I suppose. Ours in Northampton has about 8 different eating options within a few minutes walk. They also have a bar and snack bar as well as all the usual popcorn and icecream stuff.
Just after we moved to Northampton in search of a better life and more cinema, Cineworld opened a multi-plex in Bury St Edmunds. Sods law isn't it!
Summary: Unlimited cinema nationwide