Bond boost for East Coast Cinema ahead of bumper season
- Credit: Mick Howes
The release of the latest James Bond movie has marked a welcome return to normality for Lowestoft's independent cinema.
Since reopening in May, East Coast Cinema have enduring a frustrating wait as the No Time To Die faced repeated delays since the coronavirus pandemic began.
But now, the long-awaited release kickstarts a bumper run which is set to carry on into the new year.
Michael Hansell, director of East Coast Cinema, said: "We reopened in May with Peter Rabbit which was a fantastic start for us.
"It has been a very quiet September but that is historically quiet every year, although it may have been magnified this year.
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"It felt like a long time waiting for Bond, and it was a hard wait, but now it's out and we've been very busy.
"We're still social distancing and running at 65pc capacity.
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"We have seen a lot of people in the first few days of Bond saying they haven't been to the cinema since before the pandemic. It is fantastic to welcome them back but we're still being cautious.
Staff at the venue are still wearing face masks, while visitors are asked to wear them as they move around inside.
The cinema was awarded a funding boost of £89,373 from the Culture Recovery Fund last year.
Mr Hansell said: "From the moment Boris Johnson told people not to go to cinemas, then all the different lockdowns and restrictions, it was heart-breaking for the whole team.
"But we got through it, and the help from the government just kept us open.
"Now we need to build on that and get back to normal."
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the cinema, with a number of eagerly anticipated releases, including Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Halloween Kills and Dear Evan Hansen, as well as Marvel's The Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home, before the festival season begins.
Mr Hansell said: "October is looking very busy before we get to the winter season.
"The next three months are what we're most looking forward to."
To celebrate the release of the 25th Bond movie, the cinema will be showing 25 subtitled showings of No Time to Die over the first eight days of release in a bid to promote cinema accessibility for all.
'Epic films' on the big screen
The release of Black Widow in July was an unusual one, with the Marvel film simultaneously released on streaming service Disney+, although crowds still raced to the cinema to see it.
Mr Hansell said: "Black Widow was still a big open, but the problem was the drop off was much quicker than normal.
"The first week was as busy as it would have been, but after that it fell away.
"The problem is people want to see and feel how epic these films are and experience the big picture with other people in a more social setting.
"Taking these films and dumping it on TV means it's no longer a big movie anymore.
"Going forward, the industry seems to be reembracing the status quo and going back to what works - showing the big movies in cinemas and after they get their big audience they make even more money on DVDs."