Published: 12:00, 12 January 2018
Dover’s first multiplex cinema opens in three weeks.
And one of the first films to be shown will the last of erotic Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
The Mercury was given a tour of the next six-screen Cineworld, the second ever such multiplex in Kent after the one in Ashford.
It is scheduled to open on Friday, February 2 and is part of the wider £53 million St James’ retail and leisure development off Townwall Street.
Cineworld operations director Kelly Drew said; “We are really excited to be coming into Dover. This is the first multi-screen cinema that Dover has had.
“Our multi-screen cinema in Ashford does really well. We were keen to explore other areas of Kent and along with the St James’ development it was perfect for Cineworld to come into the community.”
Dover so far has only one small cinema, Silver Screen, off Market Square, which opened in the early 1990s.
The town had several in the mid-20th century but had been left with none at all as television grew and dominated.
One of the first films to be shown will be the brand new Fifty Shades Freed along with the superhero movie Black Panther and I, Tonya, the biographical black comedy about figure skater Tonya Harding.
The cinema has a total 909 seats and the biggest screen room is the sixth, with 237.
Cineworld will offer weekend discounted films for screenings dedicated to juniors for just £2.50 on Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays as well as a Student NUS discount.
It is also available for private venue hire.
Cineworld Unlimited card holders will also have access to an unlimited number of films per month for £17.90 a month.
The Unlimited card also allows holders to enjoy 10% off cinema snacks and drinks, local offers at restaurants and shops and exclusive advance screening.
All but the fifth screen have disabled balcony access, which wheelchair users can reach via lifts. These are double seated for both someone with disabilities and a companion.
All cinemagoers can enjoy the comfort of increased legroom in the regular seating.
Digital projectors will be used, a far cry from the days of projectors having to seamlessly change reel-to-reel machines mid-film without the audience noticing.
On-site general manager Luke Admans said; “We are offering the latest audio-visual technology and very comfortable seating with extra legroom.
“I think it is a great opportunity for the people of Dover.”
“We are really excited about coming into a really developing town. We recognise that Dover has a lot of potential.
The new cinema has provided 30 jobs for local people with the new staff currently being trained.
Cineworld is close to one of Dover’s past picturehouses, the Granada in Castle Street, which opened in 1930.
It closed as the ABC in 1982, later becoming the Images and Snoops nightclub and the site is being redeveloped as mixed commericial and residential use.
The Mercury was also given an exclusive preview yesterday of the wider St James’ development.
It is scheduled to open by the spring.
The development is by Bond City and the development is funded by landowners Legal and General.
Neil Crawford, Legal & General head of leisure and retail development, said: “We are hoping to put Dover back on the map as a retail and leisure destination.
“There are some great tenants moving in.”
The £150,000 sq ft development has caused worry among traders in the Biggin Street and Cannon Street about loss of business.
Major retailers like Marks and Spencer are leaving the precinct to move to St James'
It is hoped that it can survive by providing more niche businesses while St James’ has the major brand names.
Mr Crawford said: “We see this scheme as an extension to the town centre. There is great connectivity to the Market Square and high street.
“We are working hard with the council in terms of getting signs to make sure we link the two well.
"We will be bringing a lot of people into this scheme and pushing them through to the town centre.”
St James’ also includes a 108-bed Travelodge,
The project also includes the clothes stores Next and Trespass, the restaurant Nando’s and stores such as Poundland and The Food Warehouse, a part of Iceland specialising in non-frozen food.