Cinema attendances on the rise

CONSULTANTS running an independent 1930s cinema say film attendances have soared, despite admission prices being increased.The Regal, in Stowmarket town centre, had seen numbers attending the cinema plunge from 10,009 in 2003, to 8,003 in 2004.

By John Howard

CONSULTANTS running an independent 1930s cinema say film attendances have soared, despite admission prices being increased.

The Regal, in Stowmarket town centre, had seen numbers attending the cinema plunge from 10,009 in 2003, to 8,003 in 2004.

But last year saw film attendances bounce back to 10,940 and Tom Offord, the theatre management consultant appointed by the town council to turn the Regal around, says there has also been an excellent start to 2006.


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Mr Offord said film attendances for January 2006 were 2,015, up almost 315% from just 640 in January 2005. The increase comes despite ticket prices for film shows being increased on January 1 by 50p for everyone except students, who saw prices remain unchanged.

The cinema has been undergoing a series of improvements to attract more people, including installing a state-of-the-art digital surround sound system, applying for a late licence to show films into the early hours on the day of release, and staff have been trying to improve heating in the complex.

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Mr Offord said: “January was a good month for film attendances with The Chronicles of Narnia doing very well in the last week of the Christmas holidays at 802, followed by Mrs Henderson Presents at 489.

“Ticket prices for film shows were increased on January 1 by 50p for all classes except for students, for whom the price remained the same. It was pleasing to find that the increase went through without remark, another sign that the cinema is indeed valued by its users.''

The Regal, which also includes a theatre and has live shows, has only hosted a few shows during January and February.

An audience of 70 attended Stowmarket Concert Society's The Romantic Violin in February, which Mr Offord said is a significant improvement on recent concert attendances. Staff at the Regal now hope to broaden the variety of show on offer.

The Regal has also submitted a bid for funding to make improvements including refurbishing the complex, and staff hope to gain funds from the UK Film Council.

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