Three Lockdowns and five months of 'darkness' later, the company running a well-known chain of cinemas across Devon have declared: 'The big screen is back.'
Scott Cinemas know we are a long way from total freedom and anything can happen yet. But since being allowed to re-open just a few weeks ago in line with Boris Johnson's Covid roadmap, they are reporting bumper business.
The company also took of advantage of the enforced closures to carry out various improvements at their cinemas, including the Alexandra at Newton Abbot, to make them even better for the future.
Here Nicholas Bowd, Scott Cinemas' Marketing, Retail and Support Manager explains how the company is now set fair for the future - pandemic permitting:
In March 2020, cinemas around the UK closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Initially re-opening in July 2020, we opened to smaller but loyal crowds over the next few months with only Christopher Nolans’ Tenet as the major film release during this time.
We then closed again in November for the second lockdown.
#Opening in December for the Christmas period, we had a busier time as Christmas is always a popular time for cinema.
Lockdown Three came just after Christmas and, finally, we were given the green light to open our cinemas on the May 17 with Barnstaple, Bristol, East Grinstead, Exmouth and Sidmouth re-opening to a fantastic crowd, wanting to see Peter Rabbit 2 and other new releases after the cinemas had gone dark over the previous five months.
Our cinemas in Bridgwater and Newton Abbot remain closed for now due to ongoing building work but we will re-open in June and July respectively.
During these lockdowns, and expecting there to be a strong recovery for cinema in the years to come, we used the time to get on with several major projects that had already been in the pipeline for some time.
This included a new NEC 2k laser projector in Bristol, now in an overhead pod in the screen, which cured some problems we had inherited many years prior – it meant we could lose the mirrors that used to carry the image from the projector room to the screen.
In Sidmouth, we upgraded their projector to a Barco 4k laser projector, to replace the 12-year-old digital projector, which was originally one of the first to be installed in the South West. We also upgraded the sound system and can now offer Dolby 7.1 surround sound, split into three sound zones to get the best out of a tricky auditorium!
Lastly, we refurbished Screens 1 and 2 in Exmouth. In Screen 1, we set about improving the acoustics with new wall panels, and a stunning light system to go with it – the first of its kind in the UK, designed by internationally acclaimed cinema architects Unick Consulting.
We did the same improvements in Screen 2, and we’ve also installed brand new seating from Ferco, as well as new carpets, a new ceiling and improved ventilation to finish it off.
We hope to do a similar refurb on Screen 3 later this year, or early next year.
Each of these projects completed during the lockdowns meant we wouldn’t have to close any cinemas when we could reopen and therefore, lose the chance of catching up on any films that were delayed due to the pandemic.
Our cinemas, along with many independent venues in the UK were supported by the DCMS Culture Recovery Fund – administered by the BFI - to keep the lights on, even though our screens are dark while the cinemas were closed.
We’ve been open for just over a week at the time of writing this, and we’ve seen fantastic numbers of people returning to the cinema with most cinemas selling out multiple showtimes over the weekend.
As major film studios commit to new releases dates and things have truly started to stabilise, the big screen experience is finally back, along with the love of cinema.
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