Redefining the cinema experience with Silky Otter

Redefining the cinema experience with Silky Otter

Silky Otter have been growing their reputation as stand-outs in their communities. With great movies, gourmet menus, elegant finishes and a welcoming feel designed to welcome everyone, Silky Otter offers a modern and luxurious experience for moviegoers. Naturally, Datum were very keen to be a part of the team that delivered a unique new space in Ponsonby and helped bring the Silky Otter vision to life.

Act I: Getting the feel right

Joe Jackson, Silky Otter’s Project Development Manager, oversaw the delivery of this new space that compliments the cinemas in Ōrākei – Auckland, Richmond – Nelson, and Wigram – Christchurch.

As Joe explains, “With the Ponsonby venue, we had an existing building and a set amount of space to work with. We explained that we wanted to put a Silky Otter in this space; that we wanted four screens, and that we wanted to launch later in the year.”

Most importantly, however, the new venue had to have the right look and feel. “No massive soulless areas or popcorn on the carpet,” explains Joe. “Everything has to be thought out in detail and worked towards as part of a bigger brand. We want people to say ‘Wow, this feels like my local’ – to want to come and watch whatever we’re showing.”

Joe was recommended to Datum by an industry colleague, and started researching our work. He looked at some of our other fit-outs – such as Torpedo 7, Le Creuset, Deli di BOSSI and other commercial spaces – and the level of work achieved, the speed of work, and the quality of finishes. Joe and the project team felt confident that we could meet the tight deadlines ahead and deliver a great finished product.

Act II: Against the clock

In the second quarter of 2022, the Ponsonby project kicked off – just four short weeks after the Nelson venue wrapped up with another fit-out company. Silky Otter’s goal was to start the new fit-out in mid-June, with an opening date for October school holidays when parents and kids alike would be keen to get out of the house and see what’s on offer.

“We expected some delays. Cinemas are complicated things. We’ve got projectors that need to sit in a very specific place relative to the screens. And the screens are special micro-perforated sheets that come from overseas. The projector housing box required engineering sign-offs for the bespoke work. It’s not just fridges and shelves and seating; you can’t just throw up a sheet and call it done!”

While many of these delays were beyond anyone’s control, the roll-on effect, Joe explains, meant that other parts of the project were held up, delaying ceiling and acoustics work. But the time wasn’t unproductive.

“We had a very open relationship with Datum, and an open line to address how a delay was going to affect things. A wall couldn’t be closed up by the expected date, which would delay council sign-off, for example – but they threw a lot of labour at other things to work around it and get ahead of other parts,” says Joe.

“Datum was always there, willing and ready to offer solutions. They weren’t about giving up or doing the bare minimum. We had lots of back and forth on the phone, and Adrian, who ran things on Datum’s side, was always available. That made a big difference.”

Act III: Standing ovation

The fit-out itself features plenty of those details that make a Silky Otter cinema special. When you walk in, you immediately know you’re in a special space: timber veneers on the walls, LED lighting strips, kiosks designed to be part of the joinery, and a candy bar that fits with that premium feel. 

While circumstances meant that the launch came in November instead of October as planned, Joe and Silky Otter are thrilled with the final fit-out.

“When you walk into Ponsonby, it feels like a Silky Otter – everything from the cushions to the curtains and blinds all tick that box. You feel like you’re in a premium cinema, and that’s what we wanted to achieve.

“It was a privilege to work with Datum on this project. They’re actually working on our next project in Palmerston North – we start that in a couple of weeks. That should be an indication as to how the relationship stands. We have complete faith in their ability to work to budgets and deadlines, and to meet the specific vision that we have.”