MULTI-MILLION pound work to transform Chippenham’s cinema into a modern five-screen multiplex has finally got underway, years after the idea was first considered.

Phase one of the £2 million project to build three new screens and a new foyer area in the downstairs part of the Astoria in Bath Road, as well as providing disabled access, has begun and the management behind Reel Cinemas say fans will not have long to wait to see the changes.

“We are finally in the process of refurbishing the building and creating our new complex,” Muhammad Faisal, head of operations, said on Tuesday. “We promised this would happen many years ago, but here we are.

“It has always been our dream to refurbish Astoria ever since we bought the premises, which is one of the reasons we never let the bottom floor out to others businesses.

“There is a bit of inconvenience to our neighbours and our customers who want to use our two current screens, but we have apologised and the first phase of work will be finished on July 23.”

The second phase of work, which will be completed on August 28, will include the complete refurbishment of the cinema’s current two screens to bring it in line with the new design.

Once all the work is finished, when full the Astoria will be able to seat 552 people, show more films, and the work will also create around ten new jobs for local people.

“We wanted to bring the cinema into the 21st century,” manager Luke Finlay added. “People want three things from a cinema: comfy chairs, immersive sound and experience and a clean and tidy cinema, and we’ll be able to offer all three.

“As well as ensuring that our prices stay competitive, especially for our family tickets, we will also be introducing allocated seating on booking which will encourage visitors to book their tickets in advance to get the best seats.”