Suffolk cinema closure fears increase

NEW figures have thrown dramatic weight behind fears a Suffolk cinema may be forced to close.Visitor numbers to the cinema based at the Regal Theatre, Stowmarket, have dropped by more than 2,000 in one year, an annual report reveals.

NEW figures have thrown dramatic weight behind fears a Suffolk cinema may be forced to close.

Visitor numbers to the cinema based at the Regal Theatre, Stowmarket, have dropped by more than 2,000 in one year, an annual report reveals.

It was announced last month that the cinema – run by the town council - may face closure because it is running at a loss.

A large-scale consultation exercise was launched with residents but new comparative figures for 2003 and last year show things are not looking good.

The same number of films was shown in each year but while more than 10,000 people watched films in 2003, visitor numbers for last year dropped to 8,000.

The average audience for a film fell from 182 to 145.

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However live shows are still making money as the number of attendees is on the up. The town council has three options – to carry on as it is, to totally scrap the cinema or to focus on the theatre while showing a limited number of films.

Films booked for this month include the Oscar-nominated The Aviator and box office hits Vera Drake and Polar Express.

Councillors are due to discuss the results of the public consultation at a meeting on Wednesday.

Jo Beever, deputy finance officer for the council, said: "We have received a pleasing response to the consultation documents and the comments are in the process of being collated.

"It appears the public would like to have a more diverse range of events and shows at the theatre.

"The comments also show townspeople are supportive towards the building."

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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