At the Arcadia Cinema in Melzo the most cutting-edge cinematographic technologies always arrive first: the story of a family-run cinema that always looks ahead

Like a perfectly thought-out design project, Melzo's Arcadia Cinema was born with a specific purpose: to make cinema viewing unforgettable.

It has done so since its debut, following a tradition of the operating family, the Fumagalli: investing in the quality of the image, the projection, the experience in the theater and all the communication and collateral cultural activities designed to create a real community of passionate.

Is this mix - very successful - one of the possible futures of cinema? We asked Laura Fumagalli, marketing manager and (as she traditionally likes to define herself) operator of Arcadia Cinema.

How did the idea of the Arcadia cinema come about?

Laura Fumagalli: "Ours is a family-run business: my father entered the sector in 1979, taking care of the management and programming of a cinema Melzo, the Central, already then a point of reference for the various technological innovations in the sector.

We like to remember how the success of Arcadia is due to this history, to this desire to be the first to introduce into the Italian market all the innovations that contribute to making cinema viewing unforgettable strong>.

The Centrale di Melzo represented a sort of beacon for enthusiasts. Consider that in 1988 it hosted the 70mm preview of "The Last Emperor" by Bertolucci, in the presence of Vittorio Storaro (author of the film's photography) and with Bertolucci himself in telephone connection.

That room was already at the forefront both from an image point of view (with the possibility of projecting in 70mm) and from an audio point of view (with various decoding systems, such as Doby Digital and the DTS).

Subsequently, we thought about transferring our experience and our enthusiasm to another cinema, which would take advantage of the Centrale's experience. Thus, in May 1997, with the screening of The Woman Who Lived Twice in 70mm, we inaugurated the first Italian multiplex, the < strong>Arcadia di Melzo (still the only stand alone today, the other Arcadias in Bellinzago Lombardo, Erbusco and Stezzano are located inside shopping centres).

Ours is a journey that began 45 years ago and which continues today, and which has always had the essential objective of offering viewers the film exactly as it was conceived by its author.

I like to define our way of working with this English term, consistency, which we could translate as 'coherence'. Here, we think we have always been coherent with the vision that, since the beginning, has given shape to our business".

When did you understand that the (extraordinary) quality of the projections was the path to pursue?

Laura Fumagalli: "Since the time of the Centrale we have monitored all the developments in the sector. For the creation of Arcadia Melzo we involved Vittorio Storaro – who chose the name of the cinema and that of the five rooms that are part of it: Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Energy, our Premium room – and also George's Lucas film, who supported us both in aspects related to technological innovation and in structural and architectural ones, leading us to develop five rooms totally independent of each other, so as to avoid any type of acoustic bridge between them.

The constant search to implement the latest technologies has allowed Arcadia to be the first cinema in Italy to project digitally (since 2001); subsequently we introduced 3D and High Frame Rate (a new shooting and projection technique that abandons the 'classic' standard of 24 frames per second to introduce a new speed, from 48 to 60 frames, so as to generate more fluid images, editor's note), constantly adapting our systems to these innovations".

What makes the experience in the room unforgettable?

Laura Fumagalli: "What has always guided us has been the desire to differentiate vision within a cinema, which for us must be an experience comparable to no one else.

To achieve this objective we focused on three primary aspects.

The first is the size of the screens: for us, theaters must have huge screens, impossible to imagine in a domestic context. The majesty of the screen represents the aspect of greatest emotional impact for the audience, we can see this from the reactions of our spectators who, as soon as they enter the room, start taking photos of the screens and sharing them.

The second aspect concerns the absolute quality of the audio systems: sound is a fundamental element and therefore our Energy rooms (the one in Melzo and the two in Stezzano) are equipped ofDolby Atmos™ system with Meyer Sound speakers (a San Francisco brand recognized for excellence in its sector. Some bands, such as Metallica, exclusively use the brand's speakers for their concerts).

The third concerns the beauty of architectural spaces. If you know Melzo, you will know that very few cinemas in the world have such a large atrium, which represents an ideal path of distancing from the real world and of progressive approach towards the dimension of dreams and fantasy.

An atrium that has always been dotted with creations of monumental dimensions, coming from the films we loved to screen.

If these three are the pillars of our vision, we must also not forget the importance of the cleanliness and comfort of the seats. It is thanks to these measures that the Energia theater in Melzo received the ICTA (International Cinema Technology Association) award in 2017 as the best theater in Europe.

Awards like these are normally won by German, French or English colleagues, so it's a pride to have won them."

How do you involve your audience, beyond moments in the room?

Laura Fumagalli: "We try to involve viewers by also showing them aspects of our work that would otherwise be excluded. On our Instagram page, for example, we published a video that shows the path taken by Oppenheimer's film to reach us, starting from Los Angeles and up to the moment in which the we mounted on our projector.

Then we also involve spectators through screenings or special initiatives. For example, recently, to prepare for the release of Oppenheimer, we re-proposed both a selection of films by Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Tenet and Inception) and 2001: A Space Odyssey , one of Nolan's favorite films.

We combined this screening with a scientific conference by the astrophysicist Luca Perri, who in two and a half hours explained to the public all the scientific aspects taken examined by the film. And seeing entire families flock from all over Italy to attend the screening of 2001 A Space Odyssey in 70mm and then to the conference was truly exciting."

Your greatest successes?

Laura Fumagalli: "I would definitely say the conferences I just talked to you about, but also the Star Wars films, the screening of The Hateful Eight by Tarantino again in 70mm and that of Apocalypse Now introduced by a masterclass by Vittorio Storaro who spoke about the genesis of the film he directed photography.

What is your recipe against the cinema crisis?

Laura Fumagalli: "To avoid the crisis we need great films by great directors, those capable of creating an event. If films exist, there are also fans who rush to the theater to see them.

After Covid, the public returned and continues to return, because they realize the added value represented by viewing in theaters compared to home viewing.

So we need more Oppenheimers, more Barbies and Indiana Joness. In the next few months, fortunately, we will have great titles, such as Napoleon, Wonka, the second part of Dune

And we also hope for a new generation of Italian authors who can have international success and also contribute to bringing the public back to the cinema."