HAVING someone chew their dinner in the next cinema seat to yours might sound like a novelty gone too far, but Polly Betton believes Edible Cinema is “a cat-flap invention”.

“Pairing food directly with moments in films,” she says, “you can’t believe no one else has done if before.”

Don’t fear the chomp of a keen eater, she adds, because Edible Cinema matches food texture to film moment: noisy eating goes with noisy action. There will be no soup or crisps, but given the lack of light “it can get a bit messy”. Take that as a positive, she says: the feeling is amplified in the dark.

“Watching a film is a group thing - you hear the gasps or laughs, but you are also on your own in the dark. Cinemas are designed so the image is huge and unavoidable and the sound is amazing and you have this overwhelming experience. But add in aroma and flavour and it is infinitely more effective than if you were at home sitting watching it on your television.”

Edible Cinema is not the first time film has been matched with food. London Odeon Whiteleys serves full dinners alongside the entertainment. Nomad Cinema, a pop-up screen in outdoor locations, creates tailored picnics to eat in front of big screens. And Betton’s company, Teatime Productions, has previously worked with BAFTA on a series of post-film dinners inspired by movies viewers have just seen.

Teatime Productions joined forces with private members’ club Soho House and gin maker Bombay Sapphire to create Edible Cinema two years ago. And Betton believes “Edible Cinema has evolved into the most effective and straightforward answer to pairing food and film together. In terms of a big hit of reaction it’s the one that works.”

Audience members are brought a small tray of numbered boxers with servings created by Soho House chefs and Bombay Sapphire mixologists. A light box flashes when the moment comes to taste the dishes.

During a screening of Pan’s Labyrinth chefs matched pine-smoked popcorn to a scene in which characters ran through a pine forest. Not only did the dish release pine aroma and flavour but the food also dovetailed with feet crunching on the needle-laden forest floor. “The idea is to enhance not distract,” says Betton, who believes people go because they want to be pushed.

“They want to be engaged on a certain level; they do not want to be too comfortable and safe. But it has always got to taste good and echo what is going on screen.”

Even when the pairings do not quite work it makes for an unforgettable experience.

“In Pan’s Labyrinth there is a moment where the little girl has to go underground into a tree to get a key out of a great big squashy toad. We served fig and Greek yogurt and honey, but because people were watching somebody wrestling with a toad in the grit and it was gross-looking, there was something about the texture which freaked everyone out.”

After screening films including Beetlejuice and Some Like It Hot at London events, the concept is coming to Brighton as part of CineCity Festival.

Diners can expect to sample canapés and drinks alongside Paolo Sorrentino’s best foreign language Oscar-winner The Great Beauty. Sorrentino portrays the decadent elite in Rome in a beautiful Fellini-like state-of-the-city piece.

“I love that film so much I’ve seen it three times,” says Betton. “After it won the Oscar a lot of people heard about it but not everyone got the opportunity to see it in the cinema. It is good for Edible Cinema because it is beautiful, atmospheric and is rooted in place and time.”