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BIG E Customer Key Recognise these little guys? Every film shown at Empire will suit at least one of them. From Romance to Horror, Sci-fi to Comedy. Need a reminder? Then make a mental note of PULSE’s Big E Customer Key and keep a look out for them throughout PULSE magazine. “Billy” - The care-free student 20 years old University Student Single/Casual Relationship Loves well written scripts and full-on action “Jane & Friends” - Sociable best friends 37 years old Part-time Work Married It’s all about the labels and girl-talk “Dan & Sarah” - The romantic couple 30 years old Professional Long-term Relationship Enjoy love stories or heart-warming comedy “The Palmer Family” - The typical family Children under 10 years old Professional & Housewife Married - Happy Family Grand adventure, fantasy, and fairy tales “JJ” - The typical teen 13 years old In Secondary Education Single Superheroes, galaxy lightyears, and beyond! “Beryl” - The gran you wish you had 61 years old Retired Married Mysterious dramas and thrilling plots

Letter from Roz Welcome to the third edition of PULSE Magazine, designed especially for Empire Cinemas employees. In this spring edition, we speak to Lisa Rowland about the new online Customer Survey (pages 6-7). We also go into a bit more depth about the outcomes of its trial at Empire Poole. This is an exciting initiative for Empire Cinemas, as it will give us some really useful customer feedback on the reality of the Big E. Expect to see the results from your cinema in the summer edition! This edition, two of the Empire Cinemas team feature in our ‘Staff Profile’ page (page 38). If you are also doing anything for charity and would like the Empire Cinemas family to support you, please get in touch. Our Team Blog this time around is from Sunderland (page 39) and as well as reviews of some great films this quarter (pages 13-27), we feature your ‘Top Ten Tips’ on how to “suggestively sell” our products. Unlike Empire Cinemas’ competitors, it’s not about selling a “large” to everyone, but suggesting products that reflect the customer profile. Well done to Craig Colville, from Empire Clydebank for sending in this quarter’s Top Tip. In addition to our usual items, highlights for this quarter include a ‘Behind the Scenes’ look at a Leicester Square Premiere. We also get a good look at the winning entry for the new Big E character competition. Thank you for all the entries; as you will see we’ve made a number of the characters up (see if you can spot your entry on page 31), but for now just one entry made it into the Big E family. It’s great to see we’re receiving more and more compliment letters and the noticeboard content is growing each edition. This brings us to a slight change in look, with more extracts than full letters. We also plan to include some of the best comments from customers via the survey too, so expect an even fuller noticeboard in the future. Thank you for your ‘Competition Corner’ entries, although they were surprisingly few. If I had a chance to win a year’s supply of Cadbury chocolate, I wouldn’t miss it. Congratulations to David Robinson, from Empire Sunderland, for sending in 15/15 correct answers to the winter edition quiz. I hope you enjoy this ‘spring edition’ and as always continue to tell us what you think and how we can make PULSE even better next time.

Produced by: BA (Hons) Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing Editor: Susa Dickerson Features Editor: Ali Kirkby Staff Writers: Helen Archard / Edward Bailey Art Director: Daniel Poole Designer: Marcus Faint






If your Empire scoop shop is judged to have implemented Free Cone Day in the most udderly legendairy and amoosing way - and raised some money for charity to hoof - you and your fellow scoopers will be awarded tickets to Sundae on the Common in July!* *Sundae on the Common takes place 23rd and 24th July in London and Manchester; Reasonable travel costs will be covered.





Details of how you can win tickets to Sundae are in your Scoop Shop POS Brief which will come direct to your store.

I’m L a st In Li ne!

We are committed to being 100% Fairtrade by end of 2011

FaIR Try


Coconutte rly Fai r, our newest Fair Trade flavour!

Contentsspring 6-7



















n OpiniMoatters Your

6 11 22 32




The newest element of the Big E is Empire Cinemas’ customer feedback programme Opinion PULSE finds out more about the customer survey trialed in Poole. Your



mpire Cinemas aims to build a sturdy bridge of communication between the company and its customers. It is important to know what customers like, just as much as the things they don’t like, so that everyone in the company gets feedback on what is being done right and which areas need improvement. The current focus with ‘Your Opinion Matters’ is on Empire Cinemas’ new online customer survey, which was first trialed at Empire Poole, in December 2010 and again in January 2011. This connection to the customer will go live in every Empire cinema in April, so that all cinema teams get a visual and larger scale idea of what their customers are thinking and how they can improve things on a personal level. Cards emblazoned with cleverly adapted famous movie quotes and “You Talkin’ To Me?” were handed out by staff members to the Christmas customers with the all important link to the online survey, so customers could communicate their feedback. Lisa Rowland, who, along with the Operations team, developed the system, questions and clever marketing strategy, said: “We came up with famous film quotes and changed them slightly to say the opposite. So, for example ‘You can’t handle the truth’, from A Few Good Men, became ‘We CAN handle the truth’.” At the first trial, 8,000 cards were distributed to customers with carefully selected questions to evaluate each area of the customer experience. Lisa said: “It was essential for us to ask questions we can do something about. We want to find out how easy customers find booking with us; how happy they are with cleanliness; their opinion on the quality of food served; and how friendly and efficient the cinema team are. In effect, we want to know if we are delivering the Big E?”

The team at EMPIRE Poole where the survey was trialed.

The 26-question survey covers all pit stops of the cinema journey, from the car park, welcome and décor, to the toilets and the quality of the film itself. The survey offers the customers a scale of four options to rate the areas covered in the questions. In Big E terminology, these are ‘OMG Good’, ‘Good’, ‘Alright I guess’ and ‘Shockingly bad’, although in the survey different words are used, for obvious reasons! These days it’s harder to get people to do something for nothing, so when the survey went through its second trial period, in January 2011, there was an added incentive. One in 25 customers who responded would receive a £50 Empire gift card. Team members wore badges with the survey quotes on. This enchanted the curiosity of customers and opened up lines of conversation, so they could tell them about the survey and suggest the customer get involved.


With the majority of the population constantly attached to a computer device, the online survey seemed to be the most convenient way to get customer feedback, as well as the easiest way to compile the data received. In previous years, Empire Cinemas had used the costly service of mystery shoppers to try and judge the quality of service customers were receiving first hand. The use of an online survey opens up the potential to know what every single real customer thinks and is much more cost effective and resourceful. With the main focus for the ‘Your Opinion Matters’ programme being the survey, the information gathered will be flowing into every cinema across the country by May 2011. Armed with this information, each Empire cinema will be given adequate time to build on their strengths and improve the concern areas highlighted by the survey, before repeating the process later in the year






‘NOT GOOD’ Additional survey information:




How happy were you with... FRIENDLINESS AND EFFICIENCY 54% Really Good 31.2% Fairly Good 8.9% Neither Good nor Bad 5.9% Not Good



DECOR AND MAINTENANCE 56.6% Really Good 35.9% Fairly Good 6.3% Neither Good nor Bad 1.3% Not Good

Age range of customers completing the survey Under 17 16.7% 4.7% 13.2% 18.8%

16.2% 15.8%


to see how their changes are working over time. The brains behind the operation, Lisa Rowland, said: “The ‘Your Opinion Matters’ programme will be rolled out across Empire Cinemas in April 2011 and I am sure that every cinema will receive some very useful feedback. We have had over 300 customer responses in our 2nd Poole cinema trial, which has given us some fantastic feedback for the team in this cinema.” Managers of each cinema will receive a detailed interactive report, including all customer quotes, to clearly see what customers think. They will also be able to compare their cinema performance against their sister cinemas for a bit of healthy competition, particularly when it comes to keeping customers really happy. But, just because we’re getting technical outside of the projection room, doesn’t mean that face-to-face interaction isn’t necessary.

CHOICE OF FOOD AND DRINK 26.6% Really Good 46.9% Fairly Good 22.7% Neither Good nor Bad 3.9% Not Good

Complimentary quotes taken from the customer survey:

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+

The young lady on duty in screen 4 at 14.30 was excellent. She was smart, polite, friendly and extremely helpful especially to one or two elderly patrons. The lady next to us in the cinema dropped her drink and the staff members were excellent in clearing up and replenishing the lady’s drink. Well done!! The usherette (screen 5 – King’s Speech) was helpful, taking time to show my partially disabled wife to her seat.

“Talking to customers on a day-to-day basis is the most traditional way of understanding what customers want and will always remain one of the best. We need to actively seek our customers’ feedback and complaints should be welcomed. The customer is giving us an opportunity to put things right, not only for them, but future customers too.” So, go ahead and ask customers if they’ve had a good visit. Deal with problems on the spot, it’s a guaranteed way to earn brownie points and let the customers leave feeling satisfied. Lisa also assured us that: “The survey is just the start of the ‘Your Opinion Matters’ programme. Empire will be looking at other ways of extracting feedback from customers over the coming months/years, to weigh up performance against the Big E Vision and most crucially, learn how and where improvements need to be made.”

Cause for concern: The projector was not working, and we were left for around 40 minutes with nothing on the screen, and the lights switched off. Not one member of staff came up and explained what was happening We went to see an 18 film and were asked for ID more than 3 times for the one film. It is understandable that the staff must be efficient but that was ridiculous!! The only comment I would have is that it started to get a bit cold after an hour and my mother had to put her coat around her as did other people.



Silver E


Meet our stars


The Silver E recognition scheme is snapping up Empire Cinemas’ best employees. Let’s refresh your memory on how to become this eclectic club’s newest member and introduce you to its two latest recruits.

ith a handful of successful staff members already in the Silver E club, it’s important that, throughout every shift and with every customer, the Big E is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Lisa Rowland is one of the creators of the Big E Customer Experience Programme and its offshoot, the Silver E recognition scheme. She, more than anyone, knows exactly what it takes to be of Silver E standard: “We all love being recognised for doing a great job and we want to do more of this with our employees. We want to encourage those fantastic team members to keep doing what they’re doing and show others in the cinema how it’s done.” So what does it take? “A Silver E is someone who firstly loves their job. It’s all over their face; it’s in the way they talk to you, whether you are a customer, a colleague or a manager. They have fantastic personal skills. They are popular with everyone. Managers know they can rely on them for

delivering the experience each and every time they’re on shift. A Silver E is flexible and understands that it’s about going over and above what you would normally expect. I think the key part is that it’s all genuine.” The process starts with the General Manager for each cinema contacting Lisa with their nominations, whether it’s their personal selection or through a nomination system set up for staff to put their colleagues forward. “We generally find in this case the same name is being raised by everyone”. This shows how Empire star quality oozes from certain individuals. Job roles in head office, administration and behind the scenes at the cinemas may mean that these staff are not at the forefront of customer service, but this doesn’t mean their chances of winning are affected as the Big E is about the entire Customer Experience and not just Customer Service. Even people based in the “Back of House” environments play a major part in the customer’s experience. “They support the

people who deliver the Big E front line.” Without the technical and admin teams, the cinema experience would certainly not be possible. Communication with colleagues is just as important as communication with customers. One of the first Silver Es, Jan Dwyer, is based in head office and no doubt there are more to come. There are several rewards for the outstanding Silver E staff, which are to show how grateful Empire Cinemas is for the dedication to the company and more importantly the customer. “We are able to offer a ‘money can’t buy’ prize, which is just fantastic,” Lisa informs us. The initial prize is an invitation to attend a Premiere, rubbing shoulders with the stars on the red carpet. The allowance for friend and family tickets is also doubled, so it’s not only the individual who benefits. There is also a quarterly prize draw exclusively for Silver E winners where, at random, one winner will be selected for a very special prize. You’ve got to be invited into the Silver E circle first though!

LISA’S TOP TIP FOR SILVER E SUCCESS “Show your commitment to your managers and help them put your cinema on the Big E map. Be a great team player and go out of your way to offer a personal experience to each customer. Finally, get introduced to someone from head office when they are at your cinema.”




JOHN PERKINS - From Empire Basildon ur next Silver E is Jon Perkins, a superstar team member at Empire Basildon. The 23-yearold, from Stanford-Le-Hope in Essex, ventured into the cinema industry for the first time a mere 6 months ago, when he joined the Empire family. After such a short time he is already standing out of the crowd. With a background in administration and office work, he has taken to the lifestyle of the cinema easily and embraced the Big E standards as if it were second nature. Jon said: “I only do my job as I feel it should be

John Perkins and Tat-Vay Lay.


done. I’m not vain enough to think I have any ability above the other people here.” Recalling the moment he found out about his success, he said: “I arrived for work one afternoon to have one of our supervisors congratulate me. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I think I was the last one to find out!” To keep motivation running high, Basildon had charted the top runners for a competition organised by the cinema, yet didn’t reveal it was for the Silver E award. If our cinemas are pleasurable environments to work in, the theory is that Empire Cinemas staff will work to the best of their ability and for Jon this certainly seems to have helped. “Basildon is a well-run cinema,” he says. “Our management make sure there are enough staff to cope and that allows us to engage the customers in a more open and friendly light.” To thank Jon for his outstanding contribution and congratulate him for receiving the Silver E award, he was invited to attend the Premiere of Morning Glory at Empire Leicester Square.

DEAN MOWBRAY - From Empire Newcastle nother of our high flyers is 29-year-old Dean Mowbray, of Empire Newcastle. He joined Empire Cinemas in 2007 and has since spread his wings and soared all the way up to the position of Assistant General Manager. He is the second Silver E from Empire Newcastle and our dedicated Geordies are certainly setting the bar high. Once he’d found out about his award, Dean said: “You have no idea what it meant to receive a Silver E and a letter from Paul Baxter. I was also shown what some of the people who nominated me had written, which really meant a lot.” These top achievers are the best people to ask about how to become a Silver E, as they



1. Love the job 2. Fantastic pe rsona 3. Reliable l skills 4. Deliver the ex perience ever y time at work 5. Flexible 6. Go over and ☐ above what’s normally expe 7. Professional cted 8. Listen to any problems 9. Commitment to managers 10. Make the ci nema’s Big E st and out 11. Team player 12. Offer person al experience to each custom er

Dean Mowbray with Lisa Rowland.

have the qualities to fit the criteria. Dean said: “I just understand what the cinema means to people and how your experience can be ruined if the service isn’t outstanding. I’ve always said we have the power to make or break their night and we must strive to stand out for the right reasons. “There is a spectrum to how you do your job. You can choose to compromise cut corners and face the consequences or you can choose to aim higher and drive yourself to improve and motivate others.” By following advice like this and that of all our previous Silver stars, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be next in line for a Silver E.

On four special days, each year, we will be pulling a name out of the Silver E hat to win a fantastic prize. The prize for the 31st March draw is: 2 tickets to a summer music festival. Our draw for the 30th June Silver E Day is: a trip for 2 to Disneyland Paris.




to TIPS SUGGESTIVE product selling

Each quarter PULSE will feature your top ten tips on how to tackle an issue that might affect the experience given to customers.

This quarter, the tips that feature in our top ten were given to us by Craig Colville, Clydebank; the team at Bishop’s Stortford; and Julie McCabe, Birmingham Great Park. Congratulations to Craig Colville, Clydebank, our top tip winner this edition.


3 5 7 9

If there is a very small amount of money between portion sizes (i.e. 50p or less) point this out to the customer as it may encourage them to buy a bigger size. This seems to work especially well with Ice Blasts and Popcorn.

Give free testers e.g. popcorn. If someone doesn’t know what sort of popcorn they like, let them try both and decide for themselves.

Inform customers of any retail promotions available before they get to the Retail Counter. For example, when selling tickets to Empire Juniors, let them know there is a £1 Juniors Menu available, and if possible give them a small leaflet when handing them their tickets. Get them thinking about it before they come to the Retail Counter. If there is a small promotional combo running and a customer asks you for a small popcorn, always ask if they would like to add a drink for X amount, you don’t have to say your are giving them a promotional combo aimed at kids, as long as the cup looks to be the normal size, the customer won’t mind what it looks like. Ensure to have promotional cups and ice blast yards clearly displayed on the retail counter, in an ideal position which allows you to draw the customer’s attention to them when describing them, but also so that children can see them. Children are always attracted to the colourful yards and cups displaying movies they are going to see.

2 4 6 8 10

Whenever a customer purchases a combo, let them know they can get 50p off any bag of sweets. Ideally have a selection of sweets close to your till to draw their attention and tempt them!

Whenever a customer asks for a hot drink, ask them if they would like a biscuit with their hot drink, ideally have them close by for the customers to view.

Tell them what’s popular. If the customer sees that other people buy this product they are more likely to buy it themselves.

If a customer with a child approaches with a fruit shoot – suggest the kid’s box informing them of price difference and what is included.

Smile, be polite and not over pushy. People won’t buy products from an unwelcoming person and we don’t want to “upsell” products but “suggest” products that are right for them to enhance their experience.

In our summer edition, we will focus on ‘Making It Personal’. For a chance to win 250 E pounds for the number 1 idea, send us an email with the title “Top Ten Tips” to by 30th April 2011.




minutes with


Gordon macdonald

or PULSE’s latest insight into another of the interesting jobs held by Empire employees, we’re introduced to the man who puts the food and drink on Empire Cinemas’ table. A trip to the cinema isn’t complete without the essential extras, a bag of pick and mix, bucket of popcorn or a jumbo drink, which forces the awkward dodge and run to the toilet post-movie. The man responsible for bringing these tasty snacks and thirst quenchers to our cinemas is Empire Retail Manager, Gordon MacDonald. The 35-year old, from Leamington Spa, works alongside Ben & Jerry’s, Costa Coffee and other big brand names. Gordon’s job involves rubbing shoulders with the kings of the sweet, savoury and beverage world to bring the best to our customers. What exactly does your job involve? All things relating to retail: purchasing food, drink, paper goods, cleaning materials, etc. Range reviews / category management, promotions/marketing planning, supplier management and relations, cinema support and training. An average week can include three to four supplier meetings to discuss what business we have done and wht we have planned for the next six months, internal meetings with the wider operations team and then reviewing of data. There may be one or two cinema visits too.

Can you give us a brief overview of your history in the cinema industry and how you got to where you are now? I have been in the cinema industry for 16 years, starting as a part-time team member at the MGM cinema in Birmingham, selling popcorn (with no tills, I may add). I took up the supervisor role at the cinema, before transferring to the new Virgin Cinema (now Empire) in Birmingham, as Assistant Manager. After being there for six months, I moved to a head office role in Virgin, looking after the stores, before moving across to food and drink. I stayed in the department through the change to UGC, but left when the company merged with Cineworld in 2005. After leaving, I was contacted by Paul Baxter who had joined Empire. I had been looking for a role back in cinemas, as this is where my heart is and the thought of joining a company at its start was too good an opportunity to miss. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since working at Empire Cinemas? That you can achieve a great deal if people put faith in you. In previous companies, I was a member of a bigger department with shared responsibility. Within Empire, we run

single person or small teams, our opinions are trusted and we are given the chance to shape the company’s values and goals. How do you feel the cinema industry has changed since you joined? In the last few years, the rise in digital screens and 3D films has dramatically changed the way people view cinema and spend their money. We have seen a drop in retail spend on big 3D releases as customers are spending extra on the glasses and the film ticket price.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS 1. What is your favourite film of all time? Empire Strikes Back, an all-time classic! I spent many an hour as a kid trying to move a pencil with the force. 2. What is your favourite film of this year? Toy Story 3 - I wasn’t crying, there was something in my eye. 3. What’s the best thing about working for Empire Cinemas? The small team allows us to have a real say in how the company is run and I think we can all be proud of what has been achieved so far. 4. Who’s your favourite actor/actress? Harrison Ford in his early days. 5. Popcorn, sweet or salted? Mixed!

A special thank you to Gordon MacDonald for sparing the time to talk to PULSE Magazine.






16 18 20



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THE LITTLE BLACK BOX Look to me for fantastic facts on this season’s releases

THE LITTLE BLUE BOX Look to me for all your vital film knowledge



Snyder once again looks to weave amazing visuals with an intriguing narrative in Sucker Punch.


Unprepared they got the acting chops that will see them propelled to the upper echelons in the coming years, but they can hold their own in the April 2011 action stakes too. Tackling the lead role of Babydoll, is Australian actress Emily Browning. At only 22-years-old, she is still very much at ack Snyder has proven he’s a dab The lines between what’s imaginary and the beginning of her acting career, but that hand at taking graphic novels real are blurred, as Babydoll, after being doesn’t mean she is inexperienced. She has and transforming them into films. locked up against her will, joins forces with been acting since the age of eight, and has Previously, he directed the visually a group of other girls to escape their captors. made many appearances on Australian TV. stunning 300, which looked almost exactly as if Their adventure takes them to some strange In 2005 she won the AFI International Award Frank Miller’s original comic had come to life. and fantastic places, as they do battle with for Best Actress for her role in Lemony This was achieved by shooting on green screen samurais, serpents and more, with the large Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate and adding in the locations afterwards. Events. Surprisingly, she turned It did great at the box office and gained 300 focused on beefed up men getting down a request to audition for the several award nominations. He then went into scraps, Sucker Punch is aiming to show role of Bella in Twilight. At least it on to direct the epic Watchmen, another that women can be just as tough. left her free to take on the lead in this film with an astounding visual look to film, letting her show off not only her acting it and again doing great business and receiving arsenal of weapons at their disposal. It prowess, but her action skills too. countless award nominations. Now he’s certainly sounds as if it could get confusing, Starring beside her is another Australian directing a film which he has written himself, but Zack Snyder has a wonderful talent at actress, Abbie Cornish. Much like Browning, Sucker Punch. His previous works have clearly storytelling which ensures you can follow she began her career appearing in Australian influenced it though, as he’s given it the same even the strangest of twists. TV and film, becoming a well-known name comic book come to life aesthetic that he’s While 300 focused on beefed up men across the land down under. She began to becoming known for. getting into scraps, Sucker Punch is aiming build a name for herself worldwide after she The story is something that could’ve to show that women can be just as tough. appeared alongside the late Heath Ledger come straight out of a comic book as well. Snyder has assembled an ensemble cast of in Candy, in 2006, gaining much critical Set in the mind of a young girl, who uses some of the most promising young female acclaim. She can also be seen starring her imagination as an escape from reality. actresses in the business today. Not only have



Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.



opposite Robert de Niro in Limitless, the upcoming adaptation of The Dark Fields. It’s not just the Australian girls getting in on the action though. Also starring is 22-year-old, California born, Vanessa Hudgens, better known as Gabriella Montez in the phenomenally successful High School Musical films. Not only will her singing and dancing skills be put to good use, but she’ll also show that she’s more than capable of pulling off action scenes as well. So, that’s the girls, but what about the guys? Taking on the role of High Roller, the owner of a brothel, is Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. His performance as Don Draper in the series earned him a Golden Globe award in 2008 for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Last year was a great year for him, landing his first leading role in Stolen, an independent thriller, and appearing in Ben Affleck’s The Town. Alongside him, will be Oscar Isaac as Blue, a relatively new name in the industry, but one you should definitely be looking out

for in the future. Having most recently been seen as King John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, the Guatemalan-born actor won’t remain unknown for much longer. The music in the film is going to play as large a role in the film as the actors, being a catalyst for many of the journeys taken into fantasy worlds. While it’s certainly not a musical, you can still expect to see some dance routines and the cast showing off their vocal talents. The composer of the Moulin Rouge score, Marius de Vries has signed on to work on Sucker Punch. Having managed to achieve five Grammy nominations, two BAFTAs and an Ivor Novello award there’s no doubt that the soundtrack is more than just an afterthought. With a dance choreographer working on the film too, they’re definitely not taking this aspect light-heartedly. Zack Snyder has been working on this film for a long time now; it was first mentioned back in 2007 but was put aside in favour of Watchmen. However, this

extended period has given him time to truly hone the story and ensure it’s going to be just as he envisioned. The new skills learnt on the set of Watchmen will surely go a long way to helping the unique style of Sucker Punch come to life, and with many of the same team that worked behind the scenes on Watchmen enlisted once again, quality is guaranteed. Whilst it’s not based on a comic book, it certainly returns the feel of one and as such will definitely attract Billy to come along and see what all the fuss is about. Don’t forget about Dan & Sarah though, with the great mix of action and some strong female characters, it has something to appeal to both of them. Although we’re only in the beginning of 2011, it looks as though it’s going to be one of the most original and entertaining films of the year. And the more adventurous Janes out there will be dragging their friends and husbands to see this one.

FANTASTIC FACTS Before filming, the cast had to complete a twelve week training course. They trained for six hours a day, five days a week, working on martial arts, sword fighting and choreography.


Clockwise from bottom left: the girls get ready for action; expect gunfights aplenty; Emily Browning as Babydoll.

Genre: Action / Fantasy Director: Zach Snyder Starring: Emily Browning, Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens Movie Recommendations: Sin City 300 Watchmen.


BRING ME THAT HORIZON Hold up, I could have sworn I signed up for a leisurely cruise...



May 2011 f you weren’t a fan of the final chapter of the first saga, fear not. A whole new direction is being taken to breathe fresh life into the series. With previous director Gore Verbinski jumping ship (sorry, couldn’t resist), Rob Marshall has come aboard (that one was an accident) to show us his skills. Marshall may not be the biggest name in Hollywood, but you will undoubtedly be familiar with his work. He wielded the megaphone on the Oscar-winning Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and last year’s burlesquecentred musical Nine. The man has a near unrivalled flair for styling, be it set design, costumes or characters. All of his movies have a distinctive vibe that capture and enthral even the most begrudging of viewers. The powers that be have promised to tone down the mythological and fantastical elements that dominated the last two. Of

course, it wouldn’t be a Pirates movie without a certain degree of fantasy, but there just won’t be 200ft tall sorcerer’s rising from the ocean floor. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are returning as Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa, respectively. Kevin McNally is also back as Jack’s first mate, Mr Gibbs. What will come as a shock for many, and a sigh of relief for others, is that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom will not be back. Will and Elizabeth’s story had pretty much run its course by the ending of the last film. Stranger Tides has been designed as the first of a new trilogy, so they may return to the series in later movies should the story call for it. The plot follows on directly from the last movie, with Captain Jack and Barbosa racing to the mystical fountain of youth. This time around, the movie’s bringing another fabled


pirate into the mix, as Jack will also be facingoff against the ultimate scallywag, Blackbeard. His smoulderingly sexy daughter will also be giving Jack his first real love interest. On their way to the fountain they’ll be making a pit-stop in London for a bit of action with the British army. This marks the first time England has featured in any of the movies. They will also be running into a spot of bother with mermaids (told you there would be some fantasy), but they may not be all shell bras and pet crabs à la The Little Mermaid. Signing up as Blackbeard is Lancashire boy Ian Mcshane. He’s carved out a very successful career playing brilliant baddies. He was the voice of white tiger warrior Tai Lung in the awesome Kung Fu Panda. As with many British actors he’s had his fair share of gangster roles, starring in Sexy Beast and 44 Inch Chest. He was also the resident big bad in the greatest TV Western ever: Deadwood. So expect him to be snarling his way through the movie with such prowess that it’ll scare the crap out of the youngest viewers, in a good way.


Cruz looks on, as Depp chews the fat.

I’m Johnny Depp, get me out of here!

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Action / Adventure Director: Rob Marshall Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane Movie Recommendations: Thor The Way Your Highness FANTASTIC FACTS Johnny Depp said he agreed to star in this, before “there was a script or anything”. Penélope Cruz was pregnant during the filming of the movie. While filming in London in October 2010, Johnny Depp received a letter from a local 9-year old schoolgirl, telling him her classmates needed help to ‘mutiny’ against their teachers. He turned up with almost no warning at the school in full Sparrow outfit in support.

With Keira Knightley out of the picture, the movie was in need of sex appeal for the guys. After all, the ladies will all be swooning over Johnny Depp, so it’s only fair. The boys are in for a real treat, as one of the world’s most beautiful women will be present. Penelope Cruz stars as Blackbeard’s daughter, Angelica. Of course, she is by no means just a pretty face. Her fantastic turns in movies such as Volver, Vanilla Sky and Blow (as well as many foreign movies) have earned her a reputation as one of Hollywood’s greatest and most versatile leading ladies. This will be her second collaboration with Marshall, as she was also a lead in Nine. To round out the supporting cast, Marshall has brought another of the stars from Nine along for the ride. Judi Dench has joined the cast in an, as yet, unnamed role. Brit star on the rise, Stephen Graham is also donning the Pirate suit. This is his second role with Depp, as they starred alongside each other in Public Enemies. You may also remember him, as if you could have forgotten, from This is England. His exceptional turn as Compo still remains one of the best Brit characters in recent years. We cannot argue about the all-round brilliance of part one. The world was definitely not prepared for the tour de force of Captain Jack. Part two gave the viewers what they wanted, even more Jack. His role was beefed

up and no one complained. Without doubt, one of the most iconic characters of the last decade, Depp modelled him after aging Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards, who also cropped up in At World’s End as the Pirate King, and is back for a cameo. Writing partners Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot are back to provide the script. They have written all of the films so far. They commented that the movies had grown bigger and bigger each time and they couldn’t take it any further. Therefore, they have decided to scale the film down, exploring the back story of Jack and making it a much more character-based piece. Now that Bloom and Knightley’s characters are gone, the movie can focus on what has been the funniest and most exciting element of the story. Of course, that would be the character play between Jack and Barbosa. They have chewed scenery together for two movies and they light up the screen whenever they’re in the same scene. However, to jazz things up, Barbosa is no longer a pirate. He has joined the royal navy and is sailing under the British flag. The chemistry between the captains should be enough to bring anyone back for a fourth instalment. But expect The Palmers, Billy and JJ to be queuing around the block for their next fix of Pirates action. The sex appeal of Depp and Cruz should also attract Dan & Sarah for a little date night viewing.


With such a high-profile cast, there’s no chance Rio will turn out to be a disappointment.

blu skies OF RIO RIO April 2011

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand.


lthough relatively new to making feature films, Blue Sky Studios has a long history of working in films. Founded in 1987 by various artists and technicians who had worked on the original Tron, they set about bringing CGI to a variety of different films and TV shows. Examples of their work can be seen in such blockbusters as Armageddon, Alien Resurrection and Titanic. After gaining a wealth of experience, 2002 saw their first foray into full-length animated film, with Ice Age. It proved a massive success. Not resting on their laurels, however, they soon followed it up with Robots, as well as two sequels to Ice Age. However, for their new film, Rio, they’re heading to warmer climes. The story centres on a rare blue macaw, cleverly named Blu, who is the last of his kind. When a female

macaw named Jewel is found in South America, Blu is shipped off to Rio de Janeiro to meet her. They are captured by poachers, looking to sell them on for a fortune. With a group of friends, including Rafael the toucan, Luiz the bulldog, Fao the owl, Pedro the redhead bird and a yellow canary named Nico, they must evade their captors. Blue Sky Studios effectively used 3D on their last feature Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which became the third highest grossing animated film, only beaten by Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. After such a success, it only stood to reason that Rio would be released in 3D too. The setting of the film suits the director perfectly, as Carlos Saldanha was born in Rio de Janeiro. He left his hometown in 1991 to pursue a career in animation and after graduating with honours from New York’s


School of Visual Arts, he was asked to join Blue Sky Studios. It was there he went on to direct all three Ice Age films. Blue Sky has pulled together a fantastic voice acting cast to bring the computeranimated animals to life. Starring as the nerdy and cowardly Blu, is Jesse Eisenberg. He’s been making quite a name for himself as of late, having most recently appeared in The Social Network, the movie about Facebook’s creation. For his performance of Mark Zuckerberg, he has already gained several ‘actor of the year’ awards, as well as numerous more nominations. It’s not his first taste of such critical acclaim though; as far back as 1999, he was nominated for an award for his part in the TV show Get Real. Eisenberg has been one to watch for quite some time now, but it seems he’s finally getting the recognition he rightfully deserves.


Voicing Jewel, Blu’s love interest in cameo appearance in Date Night and has the film, is another award winner, Anne previously voiced Moto Moto in Hathaway. In fact, she was nominated for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. an award for the very same TV show Jesse Another star from the world of music Eisenberg was, Get Real in 1999. Who is also joining the cast. Jamie Foxx voices knows, maybe getting them back together Nico, a miniature yellow canary who’s best again will see Rio earning its fair share of friends with Pedro. Foxx has collaborated award nominations. A 12-year-old If Toy Story 3 proved anything, it’s that TV show is hardly Anne Hathaway’s animated films can be appreciated by greatest achievement though. She everyone, young and ‘young at heart’. went on to many more successes in her career. Her role in 2008’s Rachel Getting Married gained her a nomination for with Kanye West, and achieved a string of Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and her number one hits in America, but has had just most recent role in Love and Other Drugs as much success in his acting career, gaining earned her the same nomination from the the Academy Award for Best Actor for his Golden Globes. Every role she lends herself portrayal of Ray Charles in the 2004 film to seems to gain her award nominations, and Ray. Not content with just conquering the the studios are starting to notice this too, film and music world, he also hosts his own giving her the role of Catwoman in the upradio and TV shows. Rio will be his first time coming Dark Knight sequel. tackling voice acting, but it shouldn’t prove It’s not only actors getting in on the voice too much of a challenge for a man with such a acting, though. The film has also attracted vast number of achievements under his belt. stars from the music world and this doesn’t come as a big surprise. It has been said that FANTASTIC FACTS the film will be more musical than Blue Sky The creators of puzzle video game, Angry Studios’ previous works. Playing Pedro, the Birds, have announced that Angry Birds Rio is redhead bird, who befriends Blu when he due to be released to tie in with the film. first arrives in Brazil, is He’s best

known for being part of The Black Eyed Peas, and scoring several ‘number 1’ hits, but he’s no stranger to acting either. He made a

Based on their previous hits with Robots and the Ice Age series of films, it won’t come as any surprise if Rio proves just as popular as Blue Sky’s previous efforts. The animators all have years of experience, the director has more than proven his worth, and the voice actors they have assembled are second to none. A recipe for success! With something for everyone to enjoy, the Palmer Family will surely be at the front of the queue. After all, the kids will love the fun, talking animals and there’s also somewhat of a love story to hold the adults’ interest. JJ and friends may also turn up as well, after all everyone loves a good comedy film. If Toy Story 3 proved anything, it’s that animated films can be appreciated by everyone, young and ‘young at heart’.

Jesse Eisenberg created the website OneUpMe. com, which provides a daily wordplay game.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Comedy / Animation Director: Carlos Saldanha Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx Movie Recommendations: Rango Up Toy Story 3

Blu and Jewel drink in the sights of Rio de Janeiro.


“Aw, you’re so cute,” famous last words!?

FANTASTIC FACTS Director, Tim Hill, has worked as a writer for Rocko’s Modern Life and SpongeBob SquarePants. Russell Brand once auditioned for the boy band 5ive but was unsuccessful. Legendary Baywatch actor, David Hasselhoff, is due to make a cameo appearance in the film.

HOP TO IT! HOP April 2011

Russell Brand lends his voice to a rebellious rocker rabbit, determined to avoid fulfilling the East Bunny’s duties.


ust in time for Easter comes Hop, a film about the Easter Bunny which is set to blend live action with computer animation. The Easter Bunny’s teenage son E.B. is set to take over the family business, but decides to leave home and head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer. There, he is hit by Fred O’Hare and E.B. fakes injury to trick Fred into taking him home to recover. E.B. is far from the world’s best house guest, but it falls to the pair of them to save Easter. The film is directed by Tim Hill, whose last feature also mixed together live action and animation, 2007’s Alvin and the Chipmunks. As well as grossing over $400 million, Chipmunks also won favourite movie at the Kids’ Choice Awards in 2008 and picked up a nomination for best family feature at the Young Artist Awards. Illumination Entertainment, the production company behind Hop, was also responsible for Despicable Me, which picked up nominations for best animated film at both the BAFTAs and the Golden Globe Awards.

It was the second highest grossing animated film in 2010, only losing out on the top spot to Toy Story 3. Voicing the mischievous teenage rocker, E.B., is none other than Russell Brand, who is more than suited to the role. His rebellious rockstar persona has gained him fame in the UK and America as well. With his roles in both Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Get Him to the Greek, Brand received much critical acclaim and recognition. He’s also well versed in supplying his vocal talents to animated films, having voiced Dr. Nefario in Despicable Me. Playing the unfortunate driver who hits E.B., is James Marsden. Best known for his role as Cyclops in the X-Men films, Marsden started his career on the popular 90s TV show Saved by the Bell: The New Class. He has gone from strength to strength and his last film, Death at a Funeral earned him a nomination at the Teen Choice Awards for ‘male scene stealer’. Also appearing will be Kaley Cuoco, who began her modelling and acting career at the


age of six. She made her name starring in several popular TV shows, playing Penny in The Big Bang Theory, starring in 8 Simple Rules and making an appearance in Charmed. The kinetic energy of the lead animated character and the draw of Russell Brand is bound to have JJ and his friends queuing up to see the Hop. The Palmer Family will also be heading out to keep the kids amused over the school break. Hop promises to be a fun take on Easter traditions, and will appeal to kids and adults alike.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Animation / Family Director: Tim Hill Starring: Russell Brand, James Marsden, Elizabeth Perkins Movie Recommendations: Arthur Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rio


FANTASTIC FACTS Danny Boyle was developing Hanna with screenwriter Seth Lochhead in early 2009, but eventually left the project. The script was listed on both the 2006 and 2009 Black List, an annual list of the best unproduced screenplays of the year.


‘Adapt or die’ - Film tagline.


HANNA April 2011

Training your daughter to be a spy-hunting assassin, a slight change from teaching her to ride a bike.


ave you ever wondered what you would get if you crossed Leon with Kick Ass? Well here it is. Hanna is the all new action thriller from director Joe Wright. For those of you familiar with Wright, you’ll be aware that this is a pretty left-field choice of film for the Golden Globe nominee. His usual fare is in emotional weepies like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. He also showed great talent for character pieces with The Soloist. This is definitely something different for him, spreading his creative wings in a new direction. The action will certainly please Billy and the boys and whilst JJ may try and sneak in as well, the certificate says otherwise. This is the story of a man who raises and trains his daughter to be the perfect assassin. He makes her target an intelligence agent in the form of Cate Blanchett. Having starred in the likes of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Blanchett is no stranger to the action genre. She’s no slouch when it comes to

flexing her dramatic muscles, having picked up an Oscar for The Aviator, as well as being nominated a further four times. The show is of course Hanna. Playing this generation’s Mathilda is Saoirse Ronan. At the tender age of 16, she will definitely make waves when audiences see her kicking the teeth out of plenty of government agents. She may end up causing as much of a stir as Kick Ass’ Hit Girl. Although young, she is certainly stacking up an impressive CV and has already received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Atonement and bagged roles in The Lovely Bones and The Way Back. In the role of the father is Eric Bana, or the first Incredible Hulk after Lou Ferrigno. He has been focusing on more dramatic roles over the last few years and has taken the lead in titles like The Time Travellers Wife. He’s another man who could give you a good slapping without breaking a sweat, for verification simply see Munich, Black Hawk Down and Troy. Wright co-wrote the script with The Road scribe Joe Penhall. Strangely, David Farr and

Seth Lochead are also on the writing team. Lochead’s made a couple of shorts and Farr was a writer for TV thriller Spooks for five years, so he clearly knows his way around the genre. This is, however, their first attempt at a feature film. The pair must have come to the table with something extremely impressive to be allowed in on the action with the big boys. We could be in for quite a treat. There is certainly a current gap for a kick ass female-led series and we may be about to witness its beginning.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Action / Adventure / Thriller Director: Joe Wright Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana Movie Recommendations: Source Code The Roommate Faster


Pooh and the gang.

pass the honey WINNIE THE POOH April 2011


Back to Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin & friends. innie the Pooh has been capturing the hearts of children for almost 85 years, first appearing in his own books in 1926. Disney acquired the rights to the character in the 60s and has used Winnie and his friends Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet in numerous films and television series. For its 51st full length animated feature, Disney is bringing the loveable bear back to the big screen. In a brave move, the company has decided to go against an update into live action or CGI and instead have traditionally animated the film, which pays respect to the original aesthetic of the character. It will be the first 2D animated Disney film since The Princess and the Frog in 2009, which did excellent business at the box office. The film is based on five stories from the original books, which hadn’t yet been adapted for the big screen. In another nod to Pooh’s rich history, Winnie the Pooh focuses on the honey-loving character himself, much as did Disney’s 1977, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. That’s not to say the other characters don’t make an appearance, however. Eeyore manages to lose his tail, the gang goes in search of a mysterious creature called “Backson” and Rabbit’s friends and family make their on-screen debut. Handling directorial duties is Stephen Anderson, who has been working with Disney since 1999. Since that time he has brought his skills to many of their most

successful films, including Tarzan, Meet the Robinsons and Tangled. He’s proven he’s more than capable of bringing the charm and playfulness required to make Winnie the Pooh jump off the screen. The film’s score is overseen by the world renowned Hans Zimmer and if you haven’t heard his name, you’ve surely heard his previous scores. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award on eight occasions, winning Best Original Score for The Lion King at the 1994 ceremony. Most recently he has scored the mind-bending Inception, and yet again picked up many nominations for his work. While his filmography is diverse, he’s more than capable of providing the right atmosphere for Winnie the Pooh. Of course, being an animated film, the voice actors are of utmost importance and Disney has brought together a talented cast. Taking on the role of Winnie himself and Tigger too, is Jim Cummings. He isn’t new to this though, having voiced both characters for many years, as well as lending his vocal chords to scores of other Disney films and television productions. Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants takes on Rabbit, while stand-up comedian and chat show host Craig Ferguson voices Owl. The icing on top of the cake is the legendary comedian John Cleese (aka Basil Fawlty) narrating the film. Any movie produced by the ‘house of mouse’ is a sure sign of quality, and there’s no reason to doubt this latest film will be any different. With some talented people behind


the project, and respect and care given to the rich history of the character, Winnie the Pooh is bound to be a big hit with The Palmer Family.

FANTASTIC FACTS Jim Cummings has voiced characters on The Lion King, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shrek and a number of video games. Zooey Deschanel will contribute a new version of The Sherman Brothers’ “Winnie the Pooh” theme, which has been used in every theatrically released Winnie The Pooh film. In 2008, John Cleese offered his services as a speech writer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Unfortunately, Obama didn’t take him up on it.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Animation/ Family Director: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall Starring: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, John Cleese Movie Recommendations: The Illusionist Tangled

Like father, like son


it's hammer time THOR April 2011


Avenger number three, please step forward

Thor and his hammer - Mjöllnir

FANTASTIC FACTS In the 1990s, Sam Raimi had planned to direct this film after Darkman. He later went on to do Spider-Man (2002) Jim Carrey was a long-time favourite and candidate for the role of Loki since The Mask (1994). An entire town was constructed in Galisteo, New Mexico, to serve as a fictional location for the film.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Action/ Adventure Director: Kenneth Branagh Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman Movie Recommendations: Iron Man Incredible Hulk Spider-Man

arvel are taking the next step in building their universe for The Avengers, a movie that promises to be one of the biggest events in comic book history. Kicking off the summer blockbuster season is Thor, the first of Marvel’s two releases this year, the second of which is the equally anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger. While Thor isn’t the most well-known hero in mainstream circles, he’s not without a bevy of fans, just itching to see the Norse God in his first starring role. He has often cropped up in other comic book/television series, even with a supporting role in an early Hulk movie. For those not up to scratch on their Aasgard mythology, Thor is the Norse God of Thunder: banished from Aasgard, the realm of the Gods, to Earth after his arrogance causes a war, he becomes a hero and ultimately joins forces with The Avengers. Actor Chris Hemsworth is the lucky chap who won the privilege of playing the man mountain. An alumni of Home and Away, Hemsworth graduated to the Hollywood big leagues. He had a brief but affecting appearance in Star Trek as James Kirk’s father in the opening scenes. And as you can tell from the images of him in costume, he certainly looks the part and has beefed up enormously for it. Thor is known for speaking in a Shakespearean style, but the makers have decided sticking to a thick English accent will be sufficient. And Hemsworth’s physique will be enough for Dan to convince Sarah to

come along. There’s plenty of action to fulfil the needs of Billy and his mates, and JJ won’t be able to keep himself away. Kenneth Branagh is in the director’s chair and this is his first stab at directing an action movie. He made his name in Shakespearean roles such as Henry V and Hamlet, which is perhaps what attracted him to the project, given that element of the source material. There are some thrilling names rounding out the supporting cast, notably, Natalie Portman, who was last seen mesmerising viewers in Black Swan. Tom Hiddleston is getting his big break as Thor’s stepbrother Loki. He mostly appeared in TV movies, but collaborated with Branagh several times previously. This should enable him to pull out a top drawer performance. Filling the role of Odin (Thor’s father and Aasgard’s top boy) is a man who requires no introduction, the one and only Anthony Hopkins. The overall look and feel of this movie was arguably the most difficult to pull off of all the Marvel movies. The aesthetic of the comic books presented a high risk of the film looking camp and rather daft, with the wings atop Thor’s helmet and costumes that belong to a period piece rather than a 21st century actioner. But full marks have to go to the team for creating a setting of sheer excellence. With Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk already a world-wide success, this will be the next piece of the puzzle for Marvel’s ultimate universe. Captain America will be the final chapter before 2012’s ultimate comic book movie experience, The Avengers.


Reese Witherspoon finds herself torn between two men.



Love is the only hope of survival, for an unlikely trio. ollywood is always looking towards the literary world for inspiration. After all, it has provided the cinema with some of the greatest stories ever told – Lord of the Rings, Godfather and Fight Club to name just a few. Water for Elephants is based on Sara Gruen’s book of the same name, which was written for National Novel Writing Month, a creative writing project where participants attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel. Upon its release in 2006, the book gained a handful of nominations, and the paperback reached the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list. It wasn’t long before Fox acquired the rights and adapted it for the big screen. The plot focuses on Jacob Jankowski, a veterinary student preparing for his final exams at university. After his parents are killed in a tragic accident, he leaves university behind and ends up as a vet with The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show On Earth, a travelling circus. He meets Marlena, one of the circus’ main performers, who has a particular affection for the horses, and an untrainable elephant, named Rosie. No stranger to bringing the written word to life on screen, Francis Lawrence will be handling directorial duties. His last project was I Am Legend starring Will Smith, based on the

Richard Matheson novel of the same name. And, whilst it contained fewer words and more pictures, he also brought to life the Hellblazer comic book in 2005, with Constantine. Another man to have made his name in book adaptations is Robert Pattinson. The English actor first came to prominence in the fourth Harry Potter film, playing Cedric Diggory. He went on to star in the Twilight saga films, again based on more literature, where he gained fame with Janes and Sarahs worldwide. After playing a wizard and a vampire, Pattinson is now tackling a veterinary student. This could be the role where he proves he’s not just a heartthrob, but a serious actor too. Academy Award winner, Christopher Waltz, plays the head animal trainer, August Rosenbluth, and after his performance in Inglorious Basterds, he’ll have a lot to live up to. While his character in Water for Elephants isn’t half as villainous as that of Hans Landa, he’s not exactly going to come across as the most pleasant guy in the film. Reese Witherspoon, another Academy Award winner, stars beside them as the wife of August. No stranger to a variety of roles, her most acclaimed performance came in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, which she won her Award for.


With such a great combination of actors involved, it won’t be surprising to see all ages flocking to see this film. Expect Jane & friends to take a shine to it, but also a younger audience coming along to get another dose of Robert Pattinson. It should also prove popular with Dan & Sarah.

FANTASTIC FACTS Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon play mother and son in a deleted scene from Vanity Fair, but in Water for Elephants they are lovers. Sean Penn was originally cast as August Rosenbluth, but dropped out and was replaced by Christopher Waltz.

KNOW YOUR STUFF Genre: Drama Director: Francis Lawrence Starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz Movie Recommendations: Red Riding Hood Something Borrowed Oranges and Sunshine


Mars Needs Moms

The Hangover Part II

Disney is starting the year with a bang. After the huge success it has just enjoyed with Tangled, it’s already launching another assault on the local multiplex. Moms sees Seth Green as a bit of an unappreciative little swine. But when Aliens abduct his mother, he tags along to Mars in an attempt to rescue her. Queue barrels of hilarity and lessons in family values. Joan Cusack, aka Toy Story’s Jessie is also in tow as the afore-mentioned mother.

As one of 2009’s highest grossing films, it was inevitable that The Hangover would head out for another night on the tiles. Part II sees the original four, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha, reprising their roles, and clearly having not learnt their lesson. This time round they’re off to Bangkok for Stu’s wedding, bumping into Liam Neeson and Bill Clinton along the way. Director Todd Phillips is at the helm again, after his last hit Due Date.


Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Legendary Formula 1 racer Ayrton Senna lost his life much too early, being involved in a fatal crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. This documentary follows his entry into racing in the mid 80s, his rivalry with Alain Prost, and his tragic death on the race course. Its appeal doesn’t only lie with the racing fans that will flock to see it; it’s a fascinating tale that will interest anyone who enjoys involving and emotional cinema.

Fans of the young Canadian sensation won’t want to miss out on this. The documentary contains footage from Justin Bieber’s 2010 My World tour, as well as going behind the scenes and delving into his past. You’ll see his early home videos, many of which have never been seen before. It offers a revealing look at how the young Bieber became a worldwide sensation. Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton cameos as Justin Bieber’s long lost twin brother.

Red Riding Hood

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Original Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke is about to take another stab at the fantasy genre. She’s putting a new spin on the classic fairytale of picnic baskets and wolves. Rising star Amanda Seyfried is in the star seat as Valerie, the girl who falls for the boy from the wrong side of the woods. Gary Oldman is also on hand putting in another attempt to successfully steal an entire movie. The effortless perfection of Oldman and the highly talented Seyfried should make for some excellent escapism.

Based on the series of novels by John Marsden, TWTWB is the first part of a brand new trilogy. When Australia is invaded, a group of teenagers rally together to fight the enemy. Home & Away’s Lincoln Lewis, Neighbours’ Caitlin Stasey and Peter Pan’s Rachel Hurd-Wood, better known as Wendy Darling, top the cast for the adventure. The dazzling action and set pieces are guaranteed crowd pleasers. Parts II and III can be expected in 2012 and 2013, respectively.



FORWARD BOND 23 Expected Release: November 2012 Director: Sam Mendes Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench

Now that MGM have found their way through their financial woes, they can finally get back to business. And front of the queue is the long awaited new Bond movie. Fans have been left hanging, as the project has been in limbo for almost two years, but thankfully, Daniel Craig will be returning. No surprise there, as he has been widely revered as the best Bond since Connery. However, this could very well be his final call as her Majesty’s number one spy and most of Empire’s customers will be keeping their eyes open for the release of this film.

THE HOBBIT PART 1 & PART 2 Expected Release: 2012 & 2013, respectively. Director: Peter Jackson Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom

After being in development for what seems like an eternity, the Lord of The Rings prequel is finally starting to take shape and is due to be released in two parts. These are being filmed back to back in Lord of the Rings’ spiritual home of New Zealand. The story sees Bilbo Baggins on a quest for treasure guarded by the dragon Smaug. Most of the trilogy’s cast are returning, with many other popular names in talks to make an appearance. Billy, fan of JRR Tolkien’s masterworks, has been waiting a long time for The Hobbit. Dan and Sarah are also planning to make an appearance and even Jane and her husband are tempted too.

In response to your feedback, the ‘COMING SOON’ page has been given a tweak. Welcome to ‘LOOKING FORWARD’, the section of PULSE that explores the movies we’re itching to get watching. Good films come to those who wait.

THE CROODS Expected Release: March 2012 Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Emma Stone

DreamWorks have had a hand in some of the finest computer animated films to hit screens, bringing to life Shrek, Megamind and Kung Fu Panda. For their next outing they’re looking to the prehistoric age for inspiration, with Nicolas Cage voicing Grug, a caveman who loses his home in an earthquake and has to relocate his family. Along the way, he bumps into a prehistoric genius, Guy, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who threatens Grug’s place as leader. Having loved Dreamworks’ critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon, the Palmer children will be doing all they can to take their parents to see The Croods.


MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL Expected Release: December 2011 Director: Brad Bird Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Josh Holloway, Paula Patton

After three hugely successful films, Mission Impossible is back for another instalment. Although it’s been a few years, Dan and Mr Palmer will be glad to know it doesn’t seem to have slowed Tom Cruise down at all. During filming in Dubai, he dangled over 2500 feet in the air from the BurjKahlifa. And to Billy’s excitement, with filming taking place in Prague, Moscow, Vancouver and India, the nail-biting action is sure to be globe hopping. Director Brad Bird is stepping up to tackle this, his first live action picture, having previously been behind the animated hits Ratatouille and The Incredibles.


FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS Expected Release: September 2011 Director: Will Gluck Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis

RED LIGHTS Expected Release: 2012 Director: Rodrigo Cortés Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen

Buried clearly got Billy & his mates, as well as tinsel town talking about Cortés, the Spanish director. Red Lights, his second English language effort is on a much bigger scale. Jane & her husband and even Beryl are sure to recognise the two big-name actors: Weaver for her roles in Gorillas in the Mist and Ghost Busters, amongst others; and De Niro for one of his many successful roles, such as in Taxi Driver or, more recently, Meet the Fockers. Throw in steely-eyed character actor, Murphy and you could be onto a gold mine. Here, Sigourney Weaver is a psychologist who, along with her assistant (Murphy), is investigating the paranormal. This leads them to a world-renowned psychic (De Niro). But this being movie land, and nothing being simple, is all as it seems?

Fans of No Strings Attached, Dan, Sarah, Jane and her mates will no doubt enjoy Friends with Benefits, which sees two friends taking their relationship to the next level. But can they keep up the naughty without those pesky ‘feelings’ getting in the way? Easy A director, Will Gluck, can count this as another sure-fire rom-com hit to add to his collection. With the bonus talents of Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, he’s definitely off to a flying start. Both stars have had a stellar year, with The Social Network and Black Swan successes, respectively. Billy might even find himself dragged to this one, with playful reluctance, by his university ‘girl’ friends.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Expected Release: July 2012 Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy

Christopher Nolan re-imagined Batman, taking the character out of its 60s roots and dragging it into a gritty modern-day setting. Much to Billy’s delight, it has been confirmed that Bane and Selina Kyle will show their faces in this sequel to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. As for the previous film, Nolan will be shooting largely in high-def and IMAX, promising that it will be even more aesthetically pleasing than the first. It’s also said to be the last Batman film Nolan will helm, so he’s bound to pull out all the stops for the finale. JJ will be pleased!


PROMETHEUS Expected Release: June 2012 Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Originally intended to be a sequel to Alien, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is being made into an entirely new franchise, due to its strong storyline. Noomi Rapace will be the new heroine kicking all different kinds of space ass, in this Sci-fi hot potato. Swiftly becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest properties, Rapace is set to become the new Sigourney Weaver for Billy’s generation. Who would be stupid enough to mess with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander? Not Beryl!


Contentsin-house 30















30 34 38 39 SPRING 2011 | PULSE MAGAZINE | 29


PULSE had a sneaky peak at how you are making the most out of The BIG E project.


The team at Basildon showed off their creative side and filled in all their empty wall space with some fimiliar faces.

Birmingham Great Park

Great Park have created a team performance board, opportunities for the team to make suggestions, and displayed customer feedback letters to highlight pros and cons.




The Sunderland team displayed all the quotes they made when nominating for the Team Member of the Month award to ensure there was recognition between colleagues as well as customers.


Our friends in Poole put together a noticeboard dedicated to keeping its team in the know about everything from Team Member of the Month to prizes the team can win.


meet the new

characters I like everything to be accessible. Please deal with me personally and don’t ignore me. The cinema should be clean and tidy, don’t leave booster seats in my way and if I require a lift, make sure its working. I don’t like it when kids are running around making lots of noise.

I can get stressed out sometimes, so I like everything to be calm, stress free and for there to be no confusion. If Jacob is happy so am I.

Sally & Jacob

Dave & Stacey

Emma & Nick

Jimbo & Karl


Philip & Tim

Trevor & Tina

A big thank you to the cinemas who sent in entries for the new Big E character. Please meet the new addition to the Big E Family!


special thank you to Bishop’s Stortford, Sutton, Sutton Coldfield and Sunderland, who suggested the winning entry. We tried to use inspiration from all your comments and the artist in Bishop’s inspired the actual look of the characters, so well done.

We chose Sally and Jacob as the winning characters, as they highlighted a particular need that wasn’t covered by the other suggestions. Due to the fantastic response, however, we also made up some of the other characters. Many of them require the same type of OMG

good experience that we already strive to give our existing customers. We will also be using some of the characters for different reasons in the future. See if you can spot your entry! Tell us what you think, by sending your feedback to the following email:




At a Premiere


Earlier this year, PULSE took a look behind the scenes of the World Premiere of ‘PAUL’ at Empire Leicester Square and thought it might be nice to share the experience with you. Susa Dickerson reports.

Clockwise from left: Leicester Square; rolling out the carpet; setting up stage; prepping the foyer; and finshing the billboards.

rriving at Empire at midday on February 7th 2011, the atmosphere is already buzzing. The main skin for the world Premiere of PAUL is already on the front of the building, and posters are going up, inside and out. Outside, broadcast trucks are parked to one side of the square and barriers are set up to section off an area, outside the cinema, where a gigantic screen is erected. Hardcore fans have been waiting outside for hours. Everything has been planned down to the smallest detail, in a process that started around a month beforehand. An initial meeting took place between the Police, the

council, distributors, the barrier company, the PR companies, security and Empire Cinemas, with a countdown meeting one or two days before the event. On the day of the Premiere itself, Stephen Bush, GM at Empire Leicester Square, arrived around 8am, with other members of staff trickling in up to 4 o’clock in the afternoon. There is so much to organise during the day such as the refreshments provided by sponsors, wheelchair seating arrangements, posters and displays, security as well as dealing with everyday customers, rehearsals and equipment testing. 5.15pm and the cinema has become a


hive of activity with PR companies, security staff and cinema team members prepping and cleaning to make sure everything is running smoothly and on time. The machine at work is mesmerising. Everyone is looking smart and the flagship cinema is looking like the world leader she is. Quarter of an hour later, Screen 1 is now completely prepared and the foyer is looking sleek. It’s time for barrier lockdown, creating a sterile area to roll out the red (although on this occasion purple) carpet. Empire Leicester Square’s doors are now open and team members are in position. Edith Bowman, looking stunning as usual, is presenting


Simon Pegg arriving in Leicester Square.

Nick Frost posing for a snap.

PHOTOGRAPHS © Susa Dickerson

Stephen Bush, GM of Empire Leicester Square, with two of his team members.

in front of the enormous screen, showing interviews with the cast. The area directly outside the cinema has been transformed. Lights are on, people are milling and security is in place. Members of the press are in position in a strategically designated area with interviewers, cameramen and photographers at the ready for the longawaited arrival of the stars of PAUL. Although pulled from one request to the next, Stephen and his team are a well-oiled machine and everything seems to be running on time. After half an hour, concessions start to wind down and security begins ushering people into Screen 1, encouraging people

to find their seats. The tension mounts, as everyone awaits the arrival of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The cast has come in posing for photos, stopping for interviews and signing autographs. In the foyer, VIP photographers get their exclusive images and the stars enter the screen. Following the introductions, Pegg, Frost and other members of the cast and crew are seated, staying to see the film with colleagues and friends. When it’s all over and after waves of applause, the gracious celebrities exit the screen and talk to people in the foyer, posing for photographs with fans and saying hello to

people they recognise, before leaving. Outside, suppliers have almost finished dismantling the massive screen and the rest of their equipment but Empire Cinemas’ work is not over. There is another event the next day, so preparations start for the erection of a stage in Screen 1. Not only that, but there is a mountain of rubbish left in the seats to clean up, as well as checking for lost property. And the cinema will remain open for paying customers well into the night.

Thank you to Stephen Bush and Sarah Smith for taking the time to help PULSE capture some great photographs.


Hemel Hempstead was Empire Cinemas’ very first multiplex

The Hemel Hempstead Experience As the original Empire Cinemas Multiplex, Hemel Hempstead is a strong part of our company’s history. We see the strength of this particular family and their fantastic embrace of the Big E.


his 8-screen cinema had a successful end to 2010, winning the Big E in Action competition and making it even more deserving of being this quarter’s profiled cinema. The competition was launched in the very first issue of PULSE and required teams to create a short film showing how their cinema put the Big E In Action. Winning their team the prize of £500, Hemel’s film showed an entertaining Empire cinema visit for Beryl and the Palmer Family and exactly how they should be treated on visiting one of our cinemas. The incorporation of real customer interviews made their film more than just fiction and proved that Empire Cinemas’ high standard service was being put into place in real life too. Team Member, Naomi, said: “The film made me feel that I can do more to ensure

the customer has a good time. It brought customer service to the forefront of my mind.” Similarly, her colleague Chris said: “I now try to think about how I can be more personal towards the customers. The whole team is a little more pro-active about the customer experience.” As for the whole of Empire Cinemas, Hemel Hempstead has several procedures in place to ensure maximum Big E focus. They have displayed a noticeboard for all updates and have Big E staff meetings and shift briefings to keep the customer experience message fresh throughout the whole day. The future is definitely bright for this team, who are only heading upwards when it comes to the Big E, grabbing hold of new developments as soon as they can. General Manager, Richard Conian, said: “We are looking to harness the


results of the customer survey to ensure we offer our customers the best service possible and to make any necessary changes to improve their overall experience.” We also have an exciting chance to spread the name of Empire Cinemas, as Hemel Hempstead, alongside sister cinemas Wycombe and Poole, will be host to their first Pauline Quirke Performing Arts Academy in April. There is every possibility that the Birds of a Feather actress will be making an appearance at these red carpet events. This is an exciting opportunity for Empire to support the stars of the future that may one day be pasted across our own silver screens. Hemel Hempstead was Empire Cinemas’ very first multiplex after it was adopted from Odeon in 2005. Its eight screens all provide the maximum cinema experience with the


minimum of a Dolby digital surround sound system in each one. Screen six alone can hold more than 400 people and there’s an impressive 1852 seats in the whole cinema. Screen 4 is even rumoured to come with its very own ghost, which a priest offered to exorcise when he found out it was haunted. So be careful if you’re watching a spooky horror, it might be scarier in the cinema! Last year saw some much-needed refurbishment, resulting in a swanky new foyer and retail area. Committing to providing the finest of cinema cuisine, Hemel has a

brand new Ben & Jerry’s café, where lucky customers can enjoy the contrast of sweet cold ice cream, washed down with a steaming drink from Costa. The sweets and snacks were not the only thing to get a bit of a makeover. The cinema was blessed with two digital 3D screens as well, pushing it firmly into the world of 21st century experiences. In its home of Leisure World, the cinema competes with an ice rink, Silverblades and a water park, Aquasplash. Empire Cinemas offers a more comfortable form of entertainment, although the extremity is still

there, just charging in through your eyes and engulfing your mind. Empire Hemel Hempstead’s surrounding area also offers eateries such as Burger King and Pizza Hut for post or pre-cinema energy building and if the action-packed films get you in the mood to party, Lava & Ignite, one of the leading chains of nightclub, are within dancing distance. We leave Hertfordshire’s ultimate retail park to continue our magical mystery tour and it could be your very own Empire cinema we visit next!

MEET THE HEMEL HEMPSTEAD TEAM INTERESTING FACTS Between 2001 and 2010, admissions totalled 4,127,671 Empire Hemel staff members have roughly 135 years cinema experience between them. Empire Hemel sells more sweet popcorn than salted. Celebrities who have visited Empire Hemel include Jude Law, Goldie, Nick Knowles, Theo Walcott, Jack Ryder, Jodi Albert, Martine McCutcheon and John Craven.

General Manager: Richard Conian started at Odeon Bournemouth as a team member whilst at university in 1998 and also worked as part of their marketing team. He moved to Hemel Hempstead Odeon as a team member and then Marketing Co-ordinator before he worked his way up to Manager, Senior Manager and finally General Manager in 2005, staying on through the changeover to Empire Cinemas. Assistant General Manager: Jessica HartShea worked as a team member at Hemel Hempstead Odeon in 2003. She left briefly to finish her degree at York University and later returned to move up from team member to Manager. Last year, following a secondment

to High Wycombe, she became Assistant General Manager. Operations Assistant: Jason Hobbs joined Empire Cinemas in 2006 as a team member. He moved to a marketing/admin role that same year and progressed to the new Operations Assistant role in 2007. Part-time Operations Assistant: Alastair Preen began as a team member in 2009 and rapidly progressed to Supervisor in early 2010. Last year, he made the transition to Operations Assistant. Supervisors consist of: Robin Wood, Chris Missenden, Michael Marks and Chris Rayner.




From: Linda Climie Sent: 09 February 2011 To: EMPIRE Clydebank





I have recently retired from teaching and have been able to indulge my love of the cinema more regularly than in the past. I now visit cinemas 2 to 3 times a week. I previously was a regular at mainly art house cinemas in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Because of my retirement I can now visit many more mainstream cinemas. I am writing to praise your staff at Clydebank. When I go there I’m met and made to feel really welcome by everyone. Not one member of staff fails to be genuinely friendly. I must point out that I loathe corporate friendly welcomes. Your staff are absolutely sincere and wonderful. I thought of telling the manager of the cinema but decided to contact you because it’s all the staff who need thanked. Linda Climie

fantastic Roz says: “What a it shows the letter to receive as ing it Personal”. importance of “Mak define the When we set out to nce, we never Empire Cinema experie bots or offer wanted to create ro to our a corporate approach Cl u ydebank customers. Thank yo stomers your for showing the cu and making friendly personalities uine.” the welcome truly gen


A huge thank you to all the cinemas who are sending in compliment letters. Sadly we can’t include them all but hopefully here is a good selection of what we are receiving each quarter. Poole and Newcastle are steaming ahead with the number of letters that we receive, so an extra well done to these teams. The very best letters will receive 250 Epounds, with our very favourite receiving a £50 voucher. The winner for the `spring edition’ Empire Clydebank. Well done!

From: Louise Cooke Sent: 12 January 2011 To: EMPIRE Wigan Dear Manager I have just been into your cinema to book to watch Megamind on Sunday afternoon 12.45pm. I was served by Stacie and it has been a long time since I came across customer service to as high a standard. She was patient, even when I messed her about because I was unsure what I was doing. She needed to start the sale again, but this was because I had failed to explain in full what I needed. She remained lovely, polite and apologised, even though it was my mistake. I spent 20 years training staff how to be good front of house and she is a diamond. Please thank her on my behalf. Regards Louise Cooke

Roz says: “Stacie cl early made an impression on this customer and ha ving patience is a fantas tic quality to have in all situations. A “diamon d” no less! Well hopefu lly 250 Epounds will sh ow our gratitude.

PULSE FEEDBACK Susi Teal ran a competition with a local children’s film school, which Empire Poole supports throughout the year with different functions. The competition winners were so happy with their experience, they took the time to write to Filmsteps, who forwarded the letter to Susi. From: Filmsteps Poole Sent: 03 March 2011 To: EMPIRE Poole Hi Susi Thanks sooo much for sorting out the Gnomeo and Juliet tickets for Maya and her family. Thought you might like to see the email Maya’s dad sent: “Dear Annie, Just wanted to thank you for arranging the Gnomeo trip. It was a really good experience. We went to the ticket office and they got the manager to see us. She was a lovely person, gave us our tickets and personally sorted out the popcorn, pick & mix, drinks and 3D glasses! The girls felt VERY VIP and they really enjoyed the film, in fact they’ve been recommending it to all their friends! Well done EMPIRE and thanks for brilliant family film experience! Jon” Annie :) Annie East Filmsteps Poole

Roz says : “Perfec t! Making c ustomer s feel like V exactly w IPs is hat we a re aiming fo r. Lovely example from Poole tea the m.”

From: Helen Hodgson-Bouch Sent: 21 February 2011 To: EMPIRE Newcatle Hi, Sorry about the delay in writing this email, but I would just like to say a HUGE thank you for the Autism Friendly Film showing of Tangled. I have to say it was a brilliant experience for the Children, Parents and Carers. You could sense the parents’ comfort at the event, not having to worry if their child talked, made a noise or got up out of the seat. Thank you for being the first cinema I know to support our children. Helen

ter highlights a Roz says: “This let make it personal great opportunity to stomers that we with a group of cu identified. High haven’t specifically astle are offering Wycombe and Newc children and screenings to autistic h this space as their families. Watc more information we plan to feature nities in the near about such opportu all involved, future. Thank you to missions and it’s great to build ad y service to our provide such a worth communities.”

Some excellent comments from customers. Well done! To: EMPIRE High Wycombe “I am writing to say how courteous and caring one of your staff members was when I visited your cinema two weeks ago. The young man who was cleaning the theatre left the light on so I could find my seat and changed my ticket quickly after I said how close to the screen I was. It was so nice to chat to a young person and I only wish I knew his name.” Ann Clarke To: EMPIRE Swindon “I would just like to thank you and your team for your prompt responses and the excellent service we received when we visited your Greenbridge cinema. Your team were helpful and patient in what is often a chaotic situation when going out into the Community. We were greeted by Michelle, who escorted us to the screens and assured us of her attention if there was anything we required. We would not hesitate to visit again.” Judith Lewis To: EMPIRE Newcastle “I just wanted to say WELL DONE!! We usually go to the Odeon, but decided as their prices have rocketed lately that we would try the Empire instead. We were very impressed. For once, an auditorium that wasn’t freezing cold and thought had been given to the audience who would be watching the film - there wasn’t advert after advert before the film had even started. People are usually very keen to offer criticism, so I wanted to say THANK YOU, we all thoroughly enjoyed our day out and we hope to be back again soon.” Louise Ackroyd To: EMPIRE Sutton (Surrey) “I wish to express my praise for the staff in your Sutton cinema. Alarms were going off within the entrance area, regarding a heating malfunction and the screen room was not much warmer than outside. Within a minute of the film starting, it stopped and an automated message to evacuate sounded. A member of staff quickly came into our screen and guided us to safety very efficiently. They didn’t have time to collect their coats and were stood outside with us, in almost freezing temperatures. We were kept fully informed throughout the problems and the team was nothing but courteous and friendly. Once the film had finished we were given a free ticket for the problems, a very kind gesture and well appreciated! Top marks on all fronts and I hope the team recovers from the cold!” Simon Day To: EMPIRE Bishop’s Stortford “Thanks to you and your employee, Danny, so much for the customer service my girlfriend and I received in December 2010. We missed our flight at Stanstead and had to wait 13 hours for the next one. We thought we might go and see a film while waiting, but were concerned we would not be allowed in the screen with our luggage. Danny got our tickets and our food and offered to store our luggage. We appreciated Danny’s helpfulness immensely. He is a credit to your business and a great example.” Donal Coffey



on the run nce again, it’s time to gain a little insight into the lives of some of our esteemed colleagues. Not only are Marketing Manager, Jon Nutton and Finance Field Support, Jan Dwyer gearing up for another fantastic year at Empire, they are also in training to take part in this year’s London Marathon. Jon is competing in aid of the Alzheimer’s society and Jan is running for the Anthony Nolan Trust. As we all know, running the London marathon is a daunting task. 27 miles is a

INTERESTING FACTS JON What’s your favourite/most anticipated film of 2011? Favorite film of the year: Justin Beiber. Most anticipated: The Smurfs / Pirates Of The Caribbean 4. Who’s your favourite actor/actress? The Hoff! Popcorn, sweet or salted? Definitely salted, with butter sauce if you can get it.

JAN What is your favorite film of 2011 so far? I haven’t been to the cinema yet this year, but I want to see Kings Speech. What film are you most looking forward to seeing this year? When I went to the company meeting, they were showing some good trailers and I liked the look of Rango, which is now out and also Battle: Los Angeles. Who’s your favourite actor/actress? Tony Curtis. Showing my age now! Popcorn, sweet or salted? Sweet!

long way to go and naturally, a great deal of training is required. Jon says: “I train generally four to five times a week, with a couple of runs, in my lunch hour, around the Royal Parks in Central London, with Paul Baxter (Operations Director). Also, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since New Year’s eve!” He obviously has a very clear idea on the physical requirements, this is not his first attempt at the marathon: “This will be my third London Marathon, trying to beat my best time of 3hrs 45mins.” Jan is no stranger to long distance requirements either: “I did a 10k in 1993 and a 5k last year.” Her training regime consists of “late nights and Jon and Jan, alcohol. No, only joking, but that ready to go! is part of it and I have a training program but it isn’t going to plan one for him. The Anthony Nolan trust had at the moment… I have been out of training to pay £50 per needle. For some reason, my for the last couple of weeks with shin splits. nephew was cured. He went into remission But, I am hoping to be back on track after and he is thankfully still with us.” physiotherapy.” Of course, with the sheer amount of Taking part in events such as this often training that needs to go into such an event, holds a special place within us. “I’d always balancing it with had ‘completing such a hectic work the London Running for a Charity always brings schedule is no easy Marathon’ on my home the reality of the situation. task. Jan finds it list of things to “very hard at the moment, but I suppose that do. And after completing my first, I got the is the same for all runners working full time.” bug,” confirms Jon. Jon believes, to complete this distance, “Also, running for a charity always brings you really need to get the miles under your home the reality of the situation, with regards belt. So, apart from his lunch breaks, he to being able to help others less fortunate than normally pounds the streets at night when yourself. Or in memory of friends or family.” he gets home and weekends, covering on Very wise words indeed, from Jan, whose average 30 to 40 miles a week. family was key to getting her into it as well. It’s certain that everyone at Empire “I want to do it for Antony Nolan, because my wishes them both the absolute best of luck, nephew got leukaemia and was in and out of and hopes they raise a great deal of money hospital for four years. We found donors for for their chosen charities. lots of other people, but never managed to find


Jon Nutten and Jan Dwyer, both from Empire Cinemas head office, are bravely taking on the London Marathon to raise money for charity.

Doing something for charity? Email us at 38 | PULSE MAGAZINE | SPRING 2011




. y own Empire Cinemas team members ver r you by n tte wri g, blo s ’ ition ed this Welcome to Greetings from the banks of the Wear!


t’s great to be blogging for PULSE from the real, beating heart of the North East. Here at Sunderland, the winter’s snow is long gone and we’ve been cracking on delivering the Big E and making it personal, the Mackem way!

members to give each other a pat on the back. Thanks to Lyndsey ‘Banksy’ Warnett for her hard work, bringing the characters to life.

Seniors’ Party Our Beryls had a Christmas treat at the Seniors’ Party, done in real Sunderland style, with tea, trannies and home-made pies! As usual, our guys jumped at the chance of a bit of cross-dressing, and the seniors took it all in good humour, clamouring for photos with our glamorous ‘ladies’! It also gave us a chance to really make it personal and they had some very interesting and obscure movie requests for upcoming line-ups. Thanks to Amy and Olwin for their home cooking, it must have been tasty, as the whole buffet was gone in 10 minutes! The seniors relished the chance to chat with each other and the staff, and they all had a great time as you can see!

The Big E Since then we’ve been working on our Big E wall, a focus point for all things ‘Big E’ in the cinema, using customer feedback and P.O.S.H results to let everyone know how well they’re doing. We also ask for comments when everyone votes for staff member of the month, which is a great way for team

Clockwise from top left: Shane helps out at the Seniors’ Party; more satisfied customers; Sunderland’s ‘Big E’ wall; The article that appeared in the Echo.

After Dark Originals Sunderland is also ‘thrilled’ to have hosted After Dark Originals: Horrorfest in March, and having given it a big build up. Our weekly movie quiz pulls in a lot of students, so we promoted it then, as well as at the University campus, and around town. Our team love an excuse to dress up, so the costumes for the night itself had been on the drawing board for a while, and we did our best to make it a night to remember for every single customer.

Empire Juniors

Echo Article

In other news, we’re back in the paper! This time for providing a special free screening for the Variety Club, a charity working with schools in one of the region’s most deprived areas. It was shocking to find out how many of the children had never been to a cinema before, and as you can see from the picture, John was over the moon to welcome them!

We continue to make it personal for our Palmers, holding competitions and games for Empire Juniors before their movies and ensuring the children get a fun experience while their parents enjoy even better value for money. The children really enjoy taking part, putting a lot of effort into colouring and craft competitions, and they are thrilled if they win prizes, especially when it’s promo material from Ashley at Disney! They always leave with smiles on their faces, and Olwin, Ben and Denise always make their cinema visit very special. Next time, you’ll be hearing from High Wycombe, where Sunderland’s GM, John, started his career in the cinema industry!

If you would like to get involved, please email us at Look out for the next TEAM BLOG in PULSE summer edition. SPRING 2011 | PULSE MAGAZINE | 39


Competition corner Congratulations to the winner of our Winter 2010/2011 edition quiz, David Robinson, from Empire Sunderland, who wins a year’s supply of chocolate, kindy supplied by . If you fancy winning a year’s supply of chocolate, courtesy of , simply tell us which three movie stars feature in the ‘“Who am I?” face puzzle, below. Send your answer, with your name, site and the heading “Competition Corner” to The winner will be chosen from the correct answers, which will feature in PULSE summer 2011 edition. Good luck!

Who am I?

Think you know Johnny Depp?

Have a stab at these questions to test your knowledge. We will tell you the answers in PULSE summer 2011. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Who is this guy? Pretty ugly right? Tell us which three movie stars feature in this face puzzle by emailing your puzzle answer, with your name, site and the heading “Competition Corner” to

In what year was Depp born? What other dream job did he pursue before acting? What film did he play his first role in? When arrested for trashing a hotel room in 1994, what animal did he place the blame on? 5. How many Academy Awards has Depp been nominated for? 6. How many children does he have? 7. Can you name them? 8. Who is he married to? 9. How many films has he worked on with Tim Burton? 10. Which of these was the first? 11. Which famous 90s Britpop band did he once record slide-guitar for? 12. Which film did he win his first Golden Globe for? 13. Which author did he portray in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? 14. Who starred alongside him in 2001’s From Hell? 15. Which is the only role Johnny Depp has played more than once?

- PULSE WINTER 2010/11 EDITION QUIZ ANSWERS Q1: This Oscar winning director could be confused for a Scottish dish? A: Paul Haggis. Can be found in The Next Three Days review. Q2: Who played Marshal Cogburn in the original True Grit? A: John Wayne. Can be found in True Grit review. Q3: This actor sported a split personality and monkeyed around for Peter Jackson, name him. A: Andy Serkis. Can be found in Brighton Rock review. Q4: The breakout movie for a colourful superhero costarring Katherine Heigl and Paul Rudd. A: Knocked Up. Can be found in Green Hornet review. Q5: Famous for biting the head of a Bat, nowadays he’s more comfortable playing in the garden. A: Ozzy Osbourne. Can be found in Gnomeo & Juliet review.

Q6: You could call her Marla, Bellatrix or even Mrs Burton. A: Helena Bonham Carter. Can be found in Kings Speech review. Q7: Danny Boyle’s shiny space movie. A: Sunshine. Can be found in 127 hours review. Q8: The painful name of an Alien actor, you can now find him on the coast. A: John Hurt. Can be found in Brighton Rock Review. Q9: He used to be fantastic, but now he’s hiding out in caves in Australia. A: Ioan Gruffudd. Can be found in Sanctum review. Q10: He may be afraid of the dark but he’s going all royal this year. A: Guy Pearce. Can be found in Kings Speech review. Q11: Once upon a time he was a psychic X-man, now he’ll just have to settle for being a classic play write.

A: Patrick Stewart. Can be found in Gnomeo & Juliet review Q12: Disney’s new movie has got Rapunzel’s hair all knotty. A: Tangled. Can be found in Tangled review. Q13: Ron Howard wishes his life could have been filled with these. A: Happy Days. Can be found in The Dilemma review. Q14: Which director gave Hereafters Bryce Dallas Howard her big break? A: M. Night Shyamalan. Can be found in Hereafter review. Q15: He may be on a trip through the desert but this witty Brit knows how to keep things chilly. A: Nick Frost. Can be found in Paul Review. Did you get them all right? YOU Go, film buff!


Spot the difference


Here’s one, just for fun. Spot the five differences between the two images from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.


In the

back row with Natalie Portman The Israeli-born Black Swan reveals all to PULSE about her passion for film.


atalie Portman was an instant child-star after her breathtaking debut performance in Leon. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength. Natalie has successfully avoided the clichéd meltdown of Hollywood’s wunderkinds. If she ever needed it, her Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan has instantly propelled her to the label of Hollywood mega-star. PULSE chats with the soon-to-be-mother and world’s hottest female movie star. How different did you find the experience of making No Strings Attached after the huge amount of physicality that was required for Black Swan? [jokes] You’re like: “How did you get fat so quickly?” [laughs] It was pretty great. It was like a palate cleanser after all that really disciplined, focused, very serious kind of set to a really playful, fun--I mean, obviously everyone’s still very professional on this kind of movie, but there’s an improvisational feel all the time and everyone’s there to, like, play. And it was a really great atmosphere. And I didn’t have to work out, because I was like, “She’s a doctor. They (doctors) don’t have time!” [laughs]

How did you find playing a character who You’ve already released Black Swan and goes through such an enormous emotional No Strings. Next up you’ve got Thor and transformation in Black Swan? then, it’s Your Highness. What’s it like I think there was a great advantage in that having so many high profile releases in Darren and I had started to talk about this such a short space of time? film around eight years ago. We started Well, you have heard the apocalypse is talking about it in 2002 when I was still coming, right? 2012. The Mayan calendar. I in College. Darren had a very specific thought I’d get it all in right before. [laughs] idea. What he told me in our first meeting It was a great opportunity to get to do a lot of became what the movie ended up being. different things in a year. I feel like I learned He had the entire idea, it was not written, so much from doing all these different types but all of the of movies, It exists in your brain because you’ve been because you themes were living with it for a long time, processing it there. All bring the when you’re not even aware of it. of the plot research, the points were there, the whole environment. seriousness and the discipline of doing a So to have that sitting in the back of your drama into something like Thor, and you mind for eight years is a great help, it bring the humour and the improvisational exists in your brain because you’ve been attitude from something like Your Highness living with it for a long time, processing it into Black Swan. I mean, it was really kind of when you’re not even aware of it. a lucky order, because I did Your Highness, and then Black Swan, and then Thor, and then No Strings. So it was really interesting. Is motherhood going to make a big impact on I mean, I feel bad for boring people with your career and the kind of roles you take? my face for a while, but as an actress, it was I have no idea. I mean, one of the most really an exciting thing to get to work on all exciting things about being pregnant is that of these things almost back-to-back. I’m just accepting the complete unknown. It’s a complete mystery and miracle. And, yeah, it’s really just accepting that I have no Who’s your favourite actor/actress? idea, which is what all of us live every day. Ben Kingsley



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PULSE Spring 2011 Edition  

Empire cinemas needed a brand new magazine designed for their team. Released quarterly, each issue will explore in-house activity from diffe...