New “super-luxury VIP surroundings” are being created for customers visiting The Picture House, Uckfield.
Screen Three is being transformed with seats installed only five years ago removed on Sunday. Electric recliners, each over a metre wide, will be taking their places with twice the space between isles.
Each seat will have a table built into the arm with enough room for a glass and bottle of wine. Food and drink orders will be brought to you.
Cinema owner Kevin Markwick says he borrowed the money for the work and was speeding ahead wanting to be ready for the opening of the latest Bond movie on November 12.
So it was a real blow to find out, at the weekend, that the film’s release has been postponed until April 2021.
But the cinema is pressing on with the project and the plan remains to open the screen on November 12.
What to show to celebrate the transformation is the next question. Kevin is planning a Facebook campaign asking people what they would like to see.
Screen Three previously had 99 seats. The new look will give it 46 seats but Kevin is hoping the changes will make the cinema experience even more special. “A good reason to go out and treat yourself,” he said.
He is a little worried about the outcome saying some might have hunkered down until the Coronavirus pandemic was over but his instinct was to press on with trying to make something new work.
The delay in release of the Bond film was enough to make Cineworld shut down its UK screens but Kevin has no plans to take such drastic action at the Uckfield cinema.
There has been an 80% drop in business due to the Coronavirus and a lack of new films but he says The Picture House will be able to keep things ticking over at least until after Christmas, and if a grant comes through via the Government’s art stimulus scheme then they will be all right until next autumn.
He said independents like The Picture House should have a better chance of survival than the big companies. Unlike them he is prepared to play Netflix films before they are released, a week later, to the general public and there has been demand for films such as Rebecca.
He’s also able to revisit a lot of event cinema, such as opera and musicals.
But there is no substitute for a new Bond movie. Kevin says that a normal big picture would bring in £60,000 for The Picture House while Bond would bring in £140,000 – a huge difference.
Business at the restaurant goes up and down, he says, but it is now open from 10am and while there are days when it is quiet others are really busy and there can be a great atmosphere in the evening.
Kevin says visitors to cinema and restaurant have commented that they feel very safe with the Covid-19 restrictions in place and he is pleased about that because the Picture House team is working hard to ensure that is the case.