The boss of Chippen-ham’s ageing cinema says a £250,000 investment will help stave off the threat of new multiplexes and keep it open.
The Reel Cinema will revert back to its original name The Astoria and has been given a revamped frontage as part of a makeover by new management firm S and K Entertainments.
Stuart Cusack, one of two directors at S and K Entertainment Ltd, said all the present staff will keep their jobs and ticket prices will be cut.
If the changes are a success there are plans to open two new screens in the empty downstairs bingo hall, providing wheelchair access and taking the number of available seats from 400 to 950.
Mr Cusack said: “It has been neglected. The people of Chippenham know they’ve been let down for quite a few years and they’ve been going to other towns.
“Our job is to bring back the sparkle and encourage them to stay. By autumn it’s going to be super smart.”
Mr Cusack said that, despite the investment, ticket prices will go down and stay the same for the rest of the year. At the moment an adult will pay £8.10 for a 3D viewing after 5pm, but S & K will charge £6 for 3D and £5 for 2D at any time of the week.
He dismissed competition from Trowbridge’s new seven-screen Odeon and the planned eight-screen Cineworld.
“No other cinema is going to be a worry to us,” he said. “Lots of people prefer the friendly atmosphere of a traditional cinema over an impersonal, clinical multiplex.”
He said Astoria will stay open throughout the redecorations, which will include separating the box office from the kiosk to cut queues.
S and K Entertainment also runs the Wellesley Cinema in Somerset.
The Astoria will also be beaming live broadcasts of theatre productions from London.
Mr Cusack said: “You get to watch what they’re seeing in the theatre, except for £15 instead of about £100. When we brought this to Wellesley it really turned the business on its head. ”
Manager Jeremy Hancock, who has worked at the Chippenham cinema for 33 years, said: “We are more than happy. I’ve been trying to get these things done for years.”
Roger Backway, of Chippenham Civic Society, said: “It’s good news, the refurb is long overdue and the live National Theatre productions are a welcome addition to the cultural offer in Chippenham.”