Modern rivals ‘will kill off traditional picture palace’

Wiltshire Times: Cinema expert John Sullivan Cinema expert John Sullivan

CINEMA consultant John Sullivan believes having both the Odeon and a potential new Cineworld could kill off the area’s independent picture houses.

Giving evidence to the planning appeal at Trow-bridge Civic Centre, into the future of the Bowyers site, Mr Sullivan suggested The Palace Cinema in Devizes and Westway Cinema in Frome were already losing a lot of custom following the opening of the seven-screen Odeon, at St Stephen’s Place, in November. “The existence of those cinemas has relied on no modern multiplexes being nearby for many years,” said Mr Sullivan. “With the Odeon in Trow-bridge, their survival is very, very slim.”

The consultant said the wide choice of films at the Odeon, as well as its modern facilities, made it more likely people would travel further to Trowbridge than go to a nearer traditional independent cinema and that trend would be likely to to increase if an eight-screen Cineworld won permission on at the former Bowyers site.

Simon Manners, directors’ assistant at Angel Leisure, which runs the Palace, said: “A lot of our customers have said they will not go to the Trowbridge cinema as they appreciate what we do.”

Blockbuster The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, released in December, did not perform at the Palace as well as management expected, with Mr Manners putting that down to both the new Odeon and mixed reviews. To boost attendance, it is now screening National Theatre Live productions.

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