Saturday, 22 November 2014

About That Cinema …

Brentwood Gazette Article
12th November, 2014

My Letter Part 1
You know, it’s an ongoing thing … 

That’s possibly a phrase that’s got you wondering, hasn’t it?

But what I’m talking about … ?

Is Brentwood’s Cinema.

Or rather …

The cinema we haven’t got: and haven’t had for some time.


As you may or not know, I live in Brentwood: in Essex.

And have done for most of my life.

And, as I was growing up, Brentwood had a cinema: only a two-screener, in what’s now Brentwood’s branch of Sports Direct.

It closed, many years ago.

And, over the past few years?

Over the past few years, any one who lived in Brentwood wanting to catch a movie on the big screen would have to head for cinema complexes in Romford, Basildon or Thurrock Lakeside.

Or maybe Chelmsford.

Brentwood hasn’t had the facilities.

Over the past few years, though?

Over the past few years, Brentwood Council has wanted to invite developers into the area of what’s now called William Hunter Way: around what’s now Brentwood’s large branch of Sainsburys.

That’s lead to endless arguments.


Ultimately, the previous aministration’s attempts to put something in place failed.


Recently, though?

Recently, Brentwood Council’s new administration — a coalition of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Brentwood First councillors — issued a consultation: to see what sort of development Brentwood residents favoured.

Quite a few — going by the results — favoured a cinema.

As did I.

Please note, no-one has stated what size cinema.

Keep that in mind.

In last week’s Gazette?   In last week’s Gazette, three Brentwood councillors — Councillors Le Surf, Baker and Quirk — indicated they felt residents would not want a large scale multiplex.   (I’ve included the relevant article as the first picture: you should be able to double-click on it, to read it.)

Which prompted me to write my most recent letter.   (Again, you can open the second and third pictures: or read the text, here.)


Overnight, though … ?

Overnight, I was somewhat sleepless.

Tossing and turning for a LONG old time!

I have to admit, the one thing that sort of helped?

Was getting the sort of idea one gets at two in the morning.

In the original article, three councillors say that a small cinema would be what was wanted.

In my original letter to the Gazette, I said I’d been told that any cinema in Brentwood could only be economically viable with around six screens.

To be perfectly frank?

I’d picked up the impression — following the story for for all these years — that Brentwood’s councillors want a small scheme: and have all along.

Whereas developers and the cinema chains want something bigger: the six screens or more I suggest in my letter.

I’ve picked up the impression, over the years, that this has been a major sticking point.

Either way … ?

Either way, I know the few councillors I’ve talked to were concerned over the size of any cinema.

What occurred to me last night?

Was I that didn’t know — for certain — what cinema chains would want.   In other words, I had no idea how many screens a cinema chain would want to have at a venue in a town the size of Brentwood.

I thought I should ask.

The letter I drafted, this morning, went like this.
I’m a resident of Brentwood, a small town in Essex with a population of some 50000: and best known — fortunately or otherwise — as home to ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.
Over the past few years, there’s been much discussion of whether a cinema should be built in town.   That’s something I personally feel would be a good thing: as, according to a recent consultation by Brentwood Council, do many in town.
However, although the local newspaper’s site doesn’t show it, many councillors seem to feel a small venue would be best suited to the town’s needs: a small venue with not many screens.   (The relevant article is in the edition of the Brentwood Gazette, dated 12th November, 2014.)
I’ve personally gone on record to say I believe that cinema chains such as yours would prefer something with more screens: the impression I’ve received over the years, and my own observations, say chains would prefer venues with at least 6 — and probably more — screens, per venue.
I’ll admit to happily being no accountant, industry expert, or economist.   But in order to have a better understanding of the subject, I’d like to ask a couple of related questions, if possible.
How many screens would a venue need, to be economically viable in a town with the population and transport links Brentwood has?
And how many seats would each such screen, need?
Any information your company can offer would be gratefully received.
And was sent to the various customer services department of Vue, Empire, Cineworld, Odeon and Merlin Cinemas.

Now, I know it’s the weekend.

So I don’t expect any answers: at least until Monday: at the very earliest.

But as soon as I get some sort of result?

I’ll have a better idea of what they want.

What I do after that … ?

I’ll let you know … 



Debbi said...

Personally, I think theatres with fewer, but bigger screens give people more reasons to go to the movies.

If you want to watch a small screen, I can get the DVD or whatever and watch it on TV!

Nik Nak said...

Fair enough, Debbi!

Personally … ?

Personally, I think the developers want to put in cinema with a lot of screens: that means they, and a given film’s producers, can Make back they’re money, Faster. (More screens means more films at a given venue: and therefore, quicker returns)

Anonymous said...

Since it is more likely to be a private sector venture than at a Cllrs whim, I would initially be lead by the multiples.
The cinema at Thurrock was, in my memory very well frequented.
50k population, to my mind, doesn't sound big enough to support this kind of enterprise with other options easily available. UNLESS it can be demonstrated that Brentfwood has a much larger catchment area, say as an historic market town, I'd be dubious of success.
When we lived in Chelmsford, we visited Lakeside, Brent Cross etc and Brentwood was the junction of the M25.

Nik Nak said...

Catchment’s sort of what I’m thinking, Mike.

We’re not only easy to get to from Junctions 25 and 26 of the M25, there’s also Brentwood Station: AND Shenfield.

There’s ALSO the fact Brentwood’s homie to The Only Way Is Essex.

I, personally, don’t watch the bloody thing: but it DOES bring people into town.


On top of that … ?

It’s not so much a councillor’s whim. I believe a lot of the site is Council land: but don’t quote me.

I also know Brentwood Council is responsible for planning permissions in Brentwood.

Either developers get past that: or Councillors change their minds.

Either way, people in town have a long wait … 

DVD Infatuation said...

Nice article!

In the area or Pennsylvania where I live, the majority of the cinemas are big multiplexes (I'm talking from 12 screens all the way up to 24), and while that is definitely the trend, we did have one close around here a few years ago because it lost money.

Fortunately, we also have an old-time style theater in the vicinity: The Colonial in Phoenixville, PA. It's been a movie house since the days of the silents (BIRTH OF A NATION played there on its first run, and Mary Pickford even visited the theater). The theater's biggest claim to fame, however, came in the late 1950s when several scenes for the Steve McQueen sci-fi classic THE BLOB were filmed inside the Colonial! Thanks to the hard work of many people, the Colonial continues to flourish as a movie theater.

So, while I agree that more screens would be the economically feasible choice, there's something to be said for small theaters as well.

Either way, best of luck to you and your community!

Nik Nak said...

Cheers for that, Dave!

And, wow! The ORIGINAL Blob?

I’m am going to have to chase that up on iTunes, now, I really am!

Terrence Myles said...

Perhaps there will be a resolution upon which most can agree.

Nik Nak said...

I hope so, Terrence: I’m concerned that we’re going to have deadlock first, before anything gets built

Terrence Myles said...

There are about 140,000 people in Savannah and a few movie theaters. Carmike is at least one of them. But there has been some debate about a new stadium for a local baseball team and also about whether to develop a Canal District.

Nik Nak said...

A canal district, Terrence?

Something like this you mean … ?