Published: 16:55, 16 October 2020
| Updated: 08:12, 19 October 2020
A cinema which has been shut since lockdown was introduced in March has finally reopened - and you won't recognise the place.
The Odeon in Maidstone has welcomed its first film-goers in six months today after being closed due to Covid.
But in the meantime the cinema has been completely redesigned with new luxury seating and improved Dolby surround-sound systems.
The new Odeon Luxe has 615 brand new, handmade recliner seats across the eight refurbished screens.
The spaced out seating has been designed to keep patrons socially distanced and Covid-safe but has the advantage of bringing luxurious amounts of leg-room.
Cinema lovers returning today have the choice of 11 films at different times of the day.
They include the action-packed time travel movie Tenet - described as Bond on acid, some suited for kids including Cats and Dogs 3 - Paws Unite, Onward and The Elfins, and a re-run of an old favourite, The Greatest Showman.
For those wanting a bit of romance there is After We Collided. Fantasy lovers can watch the Black Panther and for those seeking a thrill there is the bank heist movie Pixie or Russell Crowe going bananas in Unhinged.
Horror movie Saint Maud and The Invisible Man complete the line-up.
The cinema is housed in the Lockmeadow complex in Barker Road, Maidstone, which s now fully owned by Maidstone Borough Council. The council already owned the freehold,but bought back the head lease of the complex from the previous operators in November last year at a cost of £19.1million.
Cllr Paul Harper, chairman of the council's economic regeneration and leisure committee, said: “We are delighted to see the Odeon reopen as the Luxe brand.
“Now, more than ever, we need to support our local businesses where we can in such unprecedented times. We are really pleased that Odeon Luxe has launched in such challenging times when other operators have been closing their doors."
He said: "The new Luxe brand lends itself well to social-distancing and safety – I can’t wait to visit for myself.”
Cinema manager Ania Karnas said: “We are delighted to upgrade Odeon Maidstone to a Luxe cinema, bringing the premium experience to Maidstone film fans as they return to the big screen.
"We are looking forward to welcoming the local community through our doors and have introduced comprehensive new measures to deliver a safer cinema experience for all.”
Among those, for the moment at least, is that customers can only pay by card, no cash.
Other attractions at Lockmeadow include an 18-lane bowling alley, a trampoline park, restaurants and a two-level David Lloyd swimming pool and gym complex.
For full details of the cinema's programmes and prices, visit here .