Liberty by Scope Cinemas.

One of Colombo's most famous old cinemas, Liberty, has finally gotten a much-needed revamp. Here's what the new spot under Scope Cinema's management is like.

The Theatres

They've got 2 screens. Screen 1 is much bigger, with about 400 seats, and Screen 2 has about 130 seats and is slightly plusher. Both sell tickets at the same price, Rs. 600 for adults and Rs. 500 for kids for the daytime shows, generally at:

  • 10:30 AM
  • 01:30 PM
  • 04:15 PM

There's also an evening show at 7 PM that costs Rs. 800 for adults and Rs. 700 for children at both cinemas. 

The Experience

At Rs. 800 a pop, I expected a luxurious scene like that of Empire, and the screen and sound quality definitely seemed improved to me (especially the ear-splitting sound in the opening local ads). However, while the seats themselves at Screen 1 were comfortable, reclining chairs with good support, the incline of the theatre had not been properly angled so chairs were almost at the same level. I'm not short at 5"8, but the bottom quarter of my screen was obscured by the chairs in front of me. It must be a terrible viewing for children or people shorter than that.

Screen 2, on the other hand, was totally fine, with perfect inclines and well spaced out chairs. The chair backs were still a little tough to keep reclined so you'll find yourself a bit tense during the movie.

As for the show itself, expect to watch about 30 minutes of ads and trailers before the feature presentation starts. Our 7 PM showing of Wonder Woman began running at 7:35 PM. They also have no breaks or interruptions, so make sure you go to the bathroom and get all the snacks you need in advance! It makes for an engaging movie (because you're not distracted in the middle), but again, I definitely feel sorry for the parents of smaller kids. 

Booking

You can either play it old school and just turn up at the cinema Box Office and pick up your tickets, but that's a bit inconvenient if you want to book ahead for a potentially popular show. 

The new website's booking option is actually super easy, although you have to log in, verify your phone number, or log in via Facebook. Online booking also requires credit card payment via their web interface, but is generally quite quick and seamless in our experience. Once your payment goes through, you will be sent a confirmation which you can show the staff in exchange for a ticket stub.

Alternatively, you can use their app available free on both Google Play and the Apple Store. The interface is pretty smooth and easy to use, so consider downloading it if you're planning to hit the movies a lot.

The Food

The grub options aren't amazing, especially given the fact that this is meant to be a premier cinematic experience. You get your usual snacks like popcorn (a whopping Rs. 300), Corntos (also Rs. 300), soft drinks (Rs. 150), hot dogs, and now also fancy ice cream, and beer ranging from Lion (Rs. 350) to Corona (Rs. 800). The lack of popcorn varieties or fresh food options was disappointing, and the prices were steep.

The Service

The service was fine, in our experience. The staff was polite and competent, which is all you really need.

Overall

What's really changed here is the prices. I did definitely notice the screen/sound quality upgrade, but the seating at Screen 1 was terrible (unless you're of Shaq proportions) and the snacks uninspiring. If you're willing to shell out almost 1k to watch an evening movie, you're better off catching it at Screen 2 or the fancy and freezing Empire at the Independence Arcade where you can actually see the full screen.

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