Whether you grew up in a time of Jedis, alien invasions or hobbits; few forget their first journey to the cinema.
For many, watching a film on the big screen, popcorn in hand, remains one of life’s great pleasures.
Thanks to a recent blockbuster refurbishment, Burnley’s Reel Cinema is now promising to make that experience even more enjoyable.
A near £2m. investment has sprinkled much needed stardust on the outdated complex with a brand new foyer, new seating, new side lights in the auditorium, a complete refitting of the toilets and new carpets and flooring throughout transforming the site into an Oscar-winning worthy picture palace.
“We are the flagship cinema for Reel,” said cinema manager Andy White. “We are the future; the way it is set out, the decor, the way it looks, the new seating, everything. We have utilised every bit of space. When you come to a cinema you want good seating, good clean toilets, a nice foyer where you can see what you are buying. This is what we’re offering now.
“The standard seating for instance features leather seats with an extra foot of legroom on every row. So we’ve lost a bit of capacity within each screen but added extra comfort. And that is important.”
As well as the standard offering, there is a premiere auditorium and a new VIP screen where cinema-goers are given the full A-list treatment.
“There are only 29 seats in there – all electric recliners – so it’s a little bit more relaxed and intimate,” said Andy. “That ticket is a bit more expensive but you get a lot more that comes with it.
“It’s £17.50 each or £30 for a couple. You get a Prosecco or orange juice on arrival where you are greeted by your own usher, dedicated to that screen. You have a little goody bag on your seat with a water, chocolate bar and nuts in there.
“Your food order has already been done online or at the tills so you don’t actually bring that in with you. Then about 30/40 minutes into the screening we will bring you in a Magnum ice cream. It’s been a big success so far.”
Opened in 1997 under the Apollo brand, the cinema was acquired by family-run Reel five years ago. A revamp has been in the pipeline for a while but Reel, who like to utilise profits made from each branch instead of borrowing from banks, wanted to ensure everything was in place.
The cinema remained opened during the work and the red carpet was recently laid out as a host of dignitaries celebrated its culmination at a special launch night.
“It was a great night,” said Andy. “Burnley’s MP, Julie Cooper, was here along with Jack Straw and the Mayor, Howard Baker, as well as many other special guests.
“The work started in January and the blood, sweat and tears that everybody has put in has obviously shown very well at the end. The feedback has been excellent and we are so proud of how it all looks now.”
It is without doubt a cinema the whole town can be proud of and Andy had this message for people who may have stopped visiting in recent years.
“I would say to those people, ‘come back and give us another try’.
“The cinema is so important to a town like Burnley. It is at the heart of the community. Going to cinema is something you do all through your life. It’s a meeting place, a place for date nights, a place to go with your friends and watch the latest movies.
“I’m a Burnley lad myself and I’ve been coming to the cinema a long time. It had become a little bit decrepit, with very worn seating. It was old and dated and this work has been a long time coming. Because of the way the cinema is we could not just have done the seats first and then the foyer after. It was work that we had to do all at the same time.
“We’re now showcasing some of the best seating around. Anybody who may have started going somewhere else, come back and let us show you what we can do.”