Cinema’s record return after arson attack

STOWMARKET: An independent cinema has recorded its best first-quarter figures for 15 years – just months after it reopened following a devastating arson attack.

The Regal Theatre in Stowmarket was forced to close after the fire on September 16 last year, but since reopening in March the site has enjoyed “fantastic” attendances.

Records at the Ipswich Street site are stored only as far back as 1995, but this year’s April to June takings are better than ever.

The cinema reopened with great fanfare, a gala night of entertainment and a raft of bargain 5p screenings, with people queuing down the street to get hold of tickets.

These figures were included in the final quarter of last year’s takings but the April to June accounts show that people have kept up their support for the town council-run attraction.

And with the figures up five per cent on last year’s first quarter, things are looking promising for the Regal team, led by manager David Marsh, with a strong summer line-up on the way. Mr Marsh said the success of the Regal was going against the national trend, which shows cinemas across the country going through a very difficult few months with admissions down considerably on the same period last year.

He said: “The first quarter is always the quietest, but it’s fantastic to see we’re still growing the audience despite the great weather and the football.

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“We’re up, not hugely, but we’re up. After the original refurbishment in 2005, people came back in dribs and drabs but I don’t think enough was made of it. This time (after the fire) there was a big razzmatazz with all the 5p screenings.

“In the coming weeks the Regal is going to show Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3, Twilight: Eclipse and Inception, so I hope we’ll have very busy summer too.”

n Are you a fan of the Regal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail