In light of the announcement of many of the UK’s largest cinema chains temporarily closing, we decided to check in on Nottingham’s local Savoy Cinema. The venue has sat in the heart of Lenton for 85 years and is known as the only surviving pre-Second World War cinema in Nottingham. We spoke to General Manager, Paul, to see how they have been working through the pandemic, and how he feels the future of cinema will pan out.
Firstly, how have you been finding the transition into this ‘new normal’?
It’s taken a bit of getting use to be honest. This time last year we had Joker out which was massively popular with our student audience so going from that kind of business to the way things are is quite the adjustment. We’re happy that we’re actually open though.
Savoy is quite literally at the heart of the Lenton community, what was the reaction from audiences when you re-opened, or when most students returned to the area?
We’ve had such a nice response from our regulars and when the students returned we had a lot of them flocking back to Savoy to watch Tenet or After We Collided. Both of those have been a big hit with our student audience. It’s just nice to see Lenton alive with people again.
What has been the most difficult change you’ve dealt with since re-opening?
The lack of new film releases has been the most difficult thing for us. The distributors are obviously worried about releasing their content in the current climate but every cinema needs a steady flow of new releases to provide customers with content to watch.
What was your most popular showing after re-opening?
Tenet was definitely the most popular film and it brought a lot of people back to the cinema. It’s the kind of film that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
With so many chain cinemas failing, what is the appeal of the independent cinema to communities?
I think the appeal of Savoy Nottingham has always been its balance of nostalgia while also being modern as well. We try to make sure we have the best film presentation and refreshments that customers want from a cinema today while also keeping the feeling of being an independent and a cinema steeped in history.
Do you see the rise of online streaming as a threat to cinema at all?
Judging on how busy we were last year I don’t think streaming is pulling many people away from the cinema. Watching a film at home and watching a film at the cinema are just too different, it’s like eating in or eating out. People always enjoy getting out the house and experiencing something special. No matter how big your TV is at home it doesn’t compare to seeing it on a cinema screen, the experience will always be unique.
What is it that you feel will keep audiences coming back to the cinema?
I think as long as there are great films to see people will continue to visit. The only good thing about the release dates of so many films being pushed back is that next year is looking full of exciting movies to see at the cinema.
Many directors have noted that the cinema is the best way to experience a movie, why do you think this is?
To me it will always be the best way to experience a film, on a big screen with full surround sound. Experiencing something exciting, funny, scary, or heart breaking with other people is also infectious. Our midnight screenings of films like Avengers or Star Wars are perfect examples of how amazing it is to experience a film for the first time with other people who are just as caught up in everything as you, it’s hard to fully describe just how special it is. Seeing 300 people laugh at something funny on screen is just great, I always like to screen check at moments I know the audience are going to love to see everyone react.
Savoy has an amazing legacy, do you feel it will be around for as many years to come?
I definitely do. I honestly believe it will outlive us all.
Finally, what movies are you most looking forward to seeing when they eventually reach the big screen?
I’m looking forward the most to those that got moved from this year to next like A Quiet Place 2, Black Widow, and In The Heights. Once things ease they’ll be some great films to be rewarded with.
The future of cinema and particularly the chains who have had to temporarily close will remain to be seen, but the optimism of cinema-goers like Paul is indicative of the unique experience they provide which may allow them to survive for many years to come. Savoy Cinema is located in Lenton along Derby Road and is open for a number of screenings right now.
Featured Image and in-article image courtesy of Savoy Cinema Nottingham. No changes made to these images.
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