Filmgoer frustrated at cinema policy

A PENSIONER has criticised a system in which cinema-goers are unable to watch a film unless four customers pay to watch it.The woman, who declined to be named, said she travelled to Stowmarket's Regal Theatre from Thwaite, to watch the story of novellist Virginia Woolf in The Hours - starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore.

A PENSIONER has criticised a system in which cinema-goers are unable to watch a film unless four customers pay to watch it.

The woman, who declined to be named, said she travelled to Stowmarket's Regal Theatre from Thwaite, to watch the story of novellist Virginia Woolf in The Hours - starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore.

She got there to find she was only person who had turned up to watch the film - and claims she was told it would not be shown unless at least three other people joined her.

The Regal Theatre has set a minimum requirement on the amount of people needed to watch a movie before they will show it. Officials say it is simply not viable to screen a show with less than a quartet of paying customers.


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Eventually, with just minutes to spare, other guests arrived to join the pensioner in the audience, and the film went ahead.

However, the 65-year-old said: "I think it's terrible if people drive in from outlying villages only to find the film isn't being shown.

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"They said if it wasn't shown I could have a complimentary ticket to come back the following night, but there was no guarantee the film would be shown then either. Also, I would have had all the expense of petrol and parking again."

Marie Jacobs, manager of the 1930s theatre, said: "We've had the odd occasion when we've just had one or two people coming along and we simply can't justify running the film.

"We have to have three members of staff for health and safety reasons plus the lighting and electric and it's just not viable to run it.

"It's tax payers money that's running the theatre and how can we justify running the theatre with just two or three people in it?"

She added: "It's just unfortunate and we endeavour to do everything we can to keep the customer happy, which is why we offer the complimentary tickets."

Despite some shows being cancelled, the theatre has recorded its highest viewing figures in four years over the first half of 2003 with many films attracting up to 30 people.

The theatre is also subject to proposals for a £1.4million development, with an extra cinema auditorium, an adjoining café and an extended foyer area muted for the Ipswich Street facility.

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