Do Star Wars loom over Ipswich cinemas?

Cineworld, Ipswich.

Cineworld, Ipswich.

If the opening of the Virgin multiplex (now Cineworld) on Cardinal Park was a new hope for Ipswich film fans, the latest new really does show the Empire strikes back!

There will be inevitable questions about the viability of a new 16-screen cinema opening in the heart of Ipswich alongside the 11-screen Cineworld at Cardinal Park and the two-screen Ipswich Film Theatre in the Corn Exchange.

That will mean by Christmas 2016 there will be 29 cinema screens in Ipswich. A far cry from the late 1980s when the closure of the ABC in the Butter Market left just two screens at the old Odeon (now the Regent theatre) and one at the Film Theatre.

The opening of the Cardinal Park multiplex eventually led to the closure of the five-screen new Odeon at Major’s Corner in 2005 – just 14 years after it opened.

There will be fears that Empire’s arrival could have a similar effect on Cineworld – however, there are good reasons to believe that will not happen this time around.

Nationally the number of people going to the cinema has been increasing for many years, and figures from an industry survey produced during the planning application showed that there is no reason to believe this trend is likely to reverse.

There are also criticisms from film fans that too often too many screens are occupied by the latest blockbuster, restricting the opportunities to see other movies.

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From that point of view the Empire should improve choice – especially as 13 of its 16 screens will have less than 150 seats, making them an ideal size to show arthouse and second-run films.

Both cinemas will have easy access to parking – but Cineworld has two weapons in its armoury. It has invested in an IMAX screen within the last few years and it has an army of regular film-goers through its pay-monthly Unlimited card.

See here for all the news on Ipswich’s planned new cinema