Film centre facing fight for survival

October 01 2020
Film centre facing fight for survival

WELLS Film Centre has made an urgent plea for people to support it or it will have to close its doors for good.

The cinema reopened in July after a four-month closure because of the coronavirus restrictions.

Since reopening, customer numbers have been disappointingly low, with many screenings seeing only a handful of film-goers – and some films having no customers at all.

The film centre has taken the decision to temporarily close again from October 2, hoping to be back for the new James Bond film No Time To Die, due out in November.

In the meantime it is launching a Save Your Cinema campaign in a bid to keep the business alive.

“Since opening again in July numbers have been at an all-time low,” said film centre proprietor Sally Cooper.

“We’re not bringing in enough to survive. We need people to be aware of how serious the situation is.”

The coronavirus pandemic has meant the loss of some crowd-pulling blockbusters as distributors delay or cancel big film releases.

It has also left some people nervous about venturing out to the cinema, and with fewer customers, sales of popcorn and sweets that are so vital to cinemas have dried up, and screen advertising is down.

Measures had been put in place to make the cinema Covid-safe and reassure customers, including plastic screens in the foyer, allocated seating, and an enhanced cleaning regime between shows.

“The films we had lined up were excellent but people don’t necessarily know about them because of a lack of marketing,” said Sally.

“We hope to reopen again in November and we hope that people will come back. Unless they come back, the people of Wells will not have a cinema.”

The film centre hopes the Save Your Cinema campaign will help it keep going for now. The campaign will invite people to Sponsor a Seat, which will then have their name on it; to Sponsor a Screen; to Sponsor a Show; to buy a Christmas gift card early; to ‘round up’ spending at the cinema; or simply to make a donation.

The cinema is also planning a board in the foyer on which people can pay to have their name recorded, or pay for the name of a local essential key worker who deserves recognition.

Private screenings could also be a lifeline for the cinema. Numbers might be restricted at normal social gatherings, but when it reopens, the film centre plans private screenings at which it could welcome parties of up to 30 or 40 people in groups of up to six (unless from the same household), to adhere to current social distancing rules, for a private show that can include extras such as goodie bags.

“It’s all about a shared experience but the only people in there are the people you know. Get in touch with us and we can tailor something to your needs,” said Sally.

She said that more details of the Save Your Cinema campaign will be released soon.

“This is a community cinema. The community has supported us immensely and we need that support now more than ever,” she said.

For general enquiries or to book a private screening, email info@wellsfilmcentre.co.uk