THE RISE AND RISE OF NEW PARK CINEMA
Walter Francisco, General Manager, charts the rise and rise of Chichester Cinema at New Park.
I arrived in Chichester in 2003, and as a film lover, consider myself very lucky to start work at our cinema almost immediately. The local multiplex had just opened, which for any other cinema would have been a disaster, but with the undying support of our loyal patrons we have cemented ourselves as a very successful truly independent cinema… there are not too many of those left in the country!
In my time as General Manager, there have been two major advances in the industry. The first was the rise of the internet, and the consequent websites providing patrons with all the film information they need, plus the ability to book their favourite seat.
The second advance, and surely the most important in the cinema industry in decades, is the movement from 35mm film to digital projection. Before we installed our digital projector in 2012 (with funds raised from our loyal supporters), the 35mm prints would stay on site until we had put on our last screening of the scheduled films. Nowadays, we receive films on hard drives, allowing us to copy them on to our system, and the distributors can immediately move the drive on to another cinema. So, one drive can supply a film to numerous cinemas. This is very good for the distributors, but it is also a godsend for us, as we can now screen a film soon after its release date. I should add that we have kept our 35mm projector, and still screen from it at various times throughout the year.
And what about the future…
The future for Chichester Cinema at New Park lies with a second screen. This is a dream we have had since before I arrived, but one that is now more viable than ever. Why do we need a second screen? Good question. It will allow us to screen films on the week in which they are released, as distributors demand cinemas screen new release films on one of their screens without interruption from another film.
A second screen will also provide our cinema with a high standard auditorium for our adult and schools Film Education, screenings for the hearing and visually impaired, PACSO screenings (for children who would not normally go to a cinema), dementia-friendly screenings, as well as the Chichester International Film Festival.
The cinema industry is in a constant state of change. Currently, we are seeing an increase in auditoria with high quality seating (some literally the size of beds), whilst projection has increased from 2K to 4K… there is a Leicester Square cinema where tickets can cost over £40 each. Our intention is not to compete with these, but to maintain our focus on quality film programming, coupled with very comfortable seating, and top-notch projection.
See you at the Cinema!