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Cars queue for almost an hour War Horse screening at Ashford's Cineworld Cinema on Eureka Leisure Park

A stampede of theatre lovers caused car chaos after four screenings of the West End show War Horse kicked out simultaneously.

Cinema-goers were forced to queue for almost one hour amid traffic turmoil at the Cineworld cinema on Ashford’s Eureka Leisure Park last Thursday.

Hundreds of motorists poured out of four fully booked live screenings of the National Theatre’s stage production of the novel at around 10pm.

The National Theatre's War Horse is at the Marlowe for its 10th anniversary
The National Theatre's War Horse is at the Marlowe for its 10th anniversary

Aldington resident and film-buff Peter Morris-Kelso, 40, was leaving the cinema having watched another film.

He said: “After sitting in my car for 10 minutes and having travelled exactly two feet, I got out to see what the hold-up was.

“Because of the design of the car park, all the cars that were in the larger car park had right of way at the mini roundabout by Pizza Hut.

“That’s when I went back into the cinema to ask how many screens were showing the live broadcast of War Horse.

Peter Morris Kelso
Peter Morris Kelso

“When the member of staff told me they used four auditoriums, I just shook my head in disbelief and left.

“Four full capacity cinema screens, full of middle-aged to elderly people all trying to leave the same car park at the same time meant a 15 minute car journey home took the best part of an hour.

“I was fuming by the time I got home. Not just because of the time taken, but mostly because of the money - driven lack of foresight by the cinema’s management and administration.

“A member of staff at the roundabout letting an equal number of cars through at a time would have been more than enough.”

War Horse
War Horse

War Horse is currently celebrating its sixth year on the London Stage, having been seen by over four million people worldwide since its premiere in 2007.

It is based on the celebrated novel by former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo.

Due to the popularity of the play, additional encore screenings of War Horse are planned for March 13, 18 and 22.

Cineworld says that there will be no repeat of last week’s troubles, with only one screening planned for each of the upcoming repeat performances.

Cineworld has come under fire for its allocated seating policy
Cineworld has come under fire for its allocated seating policy

A spokesman for the firm said: “The live showing of War Horse at Cineworld Ashford attracted unprecedented demand and we added an additional three screenings to ensure that all customers had the opportunity to watch the performance.

“This resulted in a unique situation whereby four screenings finished at the same time and resulted in some customers experiencing delays when exiting the car park.

“To provide the full live experience of the West End production, it wasn’t possible to stagger the exit times and we’d like to apologise to all customers affected. In future we’ll work with the landlord to manage the car park so that we can avoid this happening again.”

For more on the upcoming screenings, visit the Cineworld website.

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