I AM writing in response to the article ‘The stage is set for battle over cinema’. I am sorry to say I totally disagree with Arun councillor Gillian Brown’s comment over the misleading leaflet regarding a new multiplex cinema built on the town’s Regis Theatre site.
Cllr Brown seems to think there is room for both multi-screen and the Picturedrome cinema in a booming town.
At one time, Bognor Regis had several cinemas, including the Odeon and the Theatre Royal.
The 50s and 60s saw the demise in cinema-going, and as a result, the closure of hundreds of theatres up and down the country. The Picturedrome stood the test of time and survived to this day.
The second wave of closures came with the American trend of multiplex cinemas.
I, myself, became involved in the cinema industry from the 1960s. Later in my career I worked as chief/manager at the State Theatre in Grays, Essex. We used to charge £1 admission and £2.50 at weekends in the 1980s.
At first, distributors were against it, until they discovered the huge return in ticket sales at the cinema. We were offered first-run release programmes until 1988.
The first multiplex was built in Grays, Thurrock. We were forced by the distributors to either increase our prices in line with the multiplex or take films at a later date. It was the end for the state single screen, and within a few short weeks, we closed down the town’s much-loved cinema.
The situation in Bognor will repeat itself if the new build takes place.
Adam Cunard has worked hard over the years to make Bognor’s Picturedrome what it is today. A huge number of improvements have been made, including the installation of digital equipment in the two screens. They have varied programming, including live transmission of opera and ballet. Mr Cunard now intends to re-seat the main auditorium.
Given the opportunity, additional screens could be built in their rear car park, increasing the venue to three or four screens.
Adam has also kept the admission charge to a minimum by charging £2.50 weekdays and £3.50 at weekends. The distributors accept this charge as they take a percentage, but in the advent of a multiplex opening in the town, they will favour that over the Picturedrome, thus forcing their prices up or taking a late release.
My second comment is why the need for another cinema in Bognor? It amazes me why Arun council cannot see an alternative entertainment offer. The town has a perfectly good cinema. I wonder if Cllr Gillian Brown has ever entered the Picturedrome and seen for herself what a beautiful building this town has to offer?
Brighton has lost its skating venue, and the nearest rink is Guildford. St Modwen has been involved in building a skating rink elsewhere in the country, why not Bognor?