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Cinemarsh at Marsh Academy’s leisure centre to open at end of summer


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A brand new, never used cinema still can't open due to restrictions over social distancing.

Cinemarsh, based at the Marsh Academy’s leisure centre on Romney Marsh, was due to open in April 2020 - just one month after the country went into lockdown.

New photos have been released of the yet-to-be-used Cinemarsh. All photos from the Cinemarsh team
New photos have been released of the yet-to-be-used Cinemarsh. All photos from the Cinemarsh team

Now, more than a year later and bosses say they still aren't ready to welcome film fans just yet, even though cinemas are now legally allowed to open.

Instead, they are waiting for two developments - the lifting of social distancing, and for studios to start releasing big blockbuster films, such as the long-awaited James Bond film.

As Cinemarsh only has 46 seats, current restrictions surrounding social distancing would make it difficult to open.

Manager Jason Mahoney explains "The current two-metre guideline is of huge significance to the viability of Cinemarsh.

"While large chains with multiplexes and large auditoriums may be able to operate (albeit in a vastly diminished way), smaller, 'boutique’ venues are disproportionally affected.

The cinema has 46 seats
The cinema has 46 seats

"Maximum capacities under social distancing restrictions vary, dependent on the constituent audience.

"Attendance of larger-groups or bubbles allow for more efficient seating plans than individuals or couples, for example.

"Figures provided via an Independent Cinema Office forum, suggest an average maximum capacity of 20% on this basis.

"We would estimate a best-case scenario of around 35% but either metric renders operations unviable, given our 46-seat capacity, until social- distancing restrictions are either lifted or significantly eased."

Mr Mahoney also says the success of Cinemarsh relies on more big budget films being released: "Relatively early in the pandemic, the major studios started to delay the release of their films.

The foyer and toilets have also been renovated
The foyer and toilets have also been renovated

"Ultimately, this is the lifeblood of any cinema and demand won’t return to anything like normal until supply is restored."

New images of the theatre show a recently decorated foyer and untouched screening room.

Mr Mahoney says people are eagerly awaiting the opening however, especially with Cinemarsh being the only cinema on the Marsh.

He said: "On the positive side, we feel that there is a huge pent-up demand for a return to normal activity and we very much hope that visits to the cinema will be a part of this.

"We were a polling station for the elections last month, and everyone was interested in the cinema.

The team are hoping to welcome guests in September
The team are hoping to welcome guests in September
It is based at the Marsh Academy's Leisure Centre. Picture: Paul Amos
It is based at the Marsh Academy's Leisure Centre. Picture: Paul Amos

"I know people are excited. Once social distancing goes, and Hollywood starts releasing again, we'll be good to go.

"The aim is to open later in the summer, maybe September."

Cinemarsh has been in the making for six years and was possible with grants from Magnox, The Garfield Weston Foundation Weston Anniversary Fund, LEADER, The Foyle Foundation and the combined funding of The Overstone Fund and Kent Reliance Provident Society Fund through the Kent Community Foundation.

It has 46 seats in total and its sound and projection systems were installed by Sound Associates, one of the top digital cinema installers in the UK. The screen is five metres wide. It also has a foyer and toilets.

Read more: All the latest news from Romney Marsh

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