Corn Exchange cinema to close

THE arts in Ipswich have received a major body blow with the decision to close the two cinema screens at the town's Corn Exchange next month.

Graham Dines

THE arts in Ipswich have received a major body blow with the decision to close the two cinema screens at the town's Corn Exchange next month.

The former Film Theatre, which was taken over by Hollywood Cinemas in 2007, has become a victim of the recession, with falling patronage leading to closure “for financial reasons.”

However, the borough council is hoping to attract a new partner to enable the town's film society and specialist festivals to use the building.


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Judy Terry, the borough cabinet member responsible for leisure services, said it was “very disappointing” that Hollywood Cinemas had to pull the plug on its Ipswich operation.

She added: “We will be talking to other operators exploring several potential projects with the hope that we can keep world cinema in the town after the October 1 closure.”

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“We appreciate Hollywood Cinema's work here in Ipswich and hope they will continue with their other ventures.”

Hollywood Cinemas, which has theatres across East Anglia including Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, took over the former Film Theatre in July 2007.

A joint statement today from the council and Hollywood said: “We are sorry that this facility at the Corn Exchange is unable to carry on but in the end it has been impossible to attract a stronger customer base in the light of the credit crunch.”

Neil Salmon, former chairman of the Friends of Ipswich Film Theatre, said the closure came as a “complete surprise.” An informal meeting this week to discuss ways to promote the theatre had been given no inkling that closure was imminent.

Blame for the situation was placed by the Labour group on the council squarely on the joint Tory-Liberal Democrat administration, which closed the Film Theatre and gave the lease to Hollywood Cinemas.

Opposition leader David Ellesmere said: “We had doubts about the viability of this venture from the outset. The council was clearly trying to save the maximum amount of money rather than go for the strongest possible operator.

“It gives us no satisfaction to be proved right. It is another blow to the cultural life of Ipswich.”

Labour warned at the time that allowing a commercial operator to run the Corn Exchange cinema was “a significant downgrading in the status of Ipswich Film Theatre as a specialist operation.”

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