Grant helps Melton cinema stay open despite James Bond blow
While larger cinema operators have been forced to temporarily close or reduce opening hours due to coronavirus restrictions, Melton’s small family-run picture house is to stay open after receiving a vital support grant.
The Regal Cinema, in King Street, has been given £8,375 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund in the first awards made by the British Film Institute and the money has helped the business meet the extra costs of making the venue Covid-safe for customers and staff.
The cash could not have come at a better time with the screen sector devastated by the latest postponement of the launch of the new James Bond film until April next year.
Cinemas were counting on No Time To Die bringing audiences flooding back but Cineworld says it will now close all of its 120 picture houses across the UK until March and Odeon will limit opening to weekends-only for many of its venues, as a result of the decision to cancel the opening of the 007 blockbuster for a second time.
Customers returned to The Regal on September 25, after it was closed for just over six months, and although attendances were low to begin with they are now picking up significantly.
Owners say they will stay open and are confident they have sufficient content to draw film fans from the Melton area and further afield with the closure of some of the larger chain operators.
Manager Jacob Mundin told the Melton Times: “This grant is fantastic for us, we are over the moon with it.
“It will cover our expenses for getting the building ready to be Covid-safe and every penny has been used.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time with the postponement of James Bond, which was a complete shock to us.
“We received the poster the day before with the November launch date on it only the day before and the assumption was it would be playing up until Christmas.
“We will be staying open after getting this grant, though, although we will run one show a day on most days.”
The Regal owners have applied for a further grant from the Arts Council which would give the business more security, stay open for extra shows and buy in bigger budget movies.
In the meantime, staff will be showing lots of films the cinema was unable to screen when lockdown came in, such as Military Wives, Jojo Rabbit and Summerland, as well as a live theatre production of Warhorse from November 11.
There are also a number of highly anticipated movies coming up next year, such as the new Minions, Top Gun 2 and the next Fast and Furious, as well as James Bond.
Social distancing measures are in place in the Melton cinema, with a reduced capacity, audience members sitting apart and separated by dividers while everyone wears a mask inside unless they are eating or drinking.
Jacob added: “Attendances were terrible to begin with after lockdown but there is now a definite trend of people coming back to us now.
“The weekly bookings have gone from 135 to 250 and a showing of Hope Gap, which stars Bill Nighy, has already been fully booked up.
“Every single person who has come along since lockdown has said how great it is and how safe they feel in the cinema and we would like to get that message out to all of our customers.”
Rutland and Melton MP, Alicia Kearns, who has worked on the Culture Recovery Fund in her capacity as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport commented: “I know how dearly residents missed visiting Melton’s Regal Cinema during lockdown and I’m pleased that this funding will assist the team there in keeping residents safe while they enjoy their films.”
Go to regalcinemamelton.com for a full list of films showing at The Regal gand to book tickets.