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King's Lynn's new cinema to open next week

In a little over a week an exciting new addition to Lynn's cultural scene will be unveiled when the newly-built two-screen cinema at the Corn Exchange opens.

The wheelchair-friendly screens were due to open back in May but as with so much else, coronavirus intervened and now the big day will be Friday, September 25.

Appropriately the first film to be screened at the venue will be The Personal History of David Copperfield, which of course was partly filmed in the town last year.

Corn Exchange screen 1 (42255630)
Corn Exchange screen 1 (42255630)

Screen One has 58 seats while the slightly smaller Screen Two has 52.

But Philip Bayfield, Corn Exchange manger, expects each one to only be about half-filled most of the time as social distancing rules are imposed.

Households can buy up to six tickets at a time and sit together. But seats next to them will be vacant. Filmgoers must wear masks.

Corn Exchange screen 2 (42255632)
Corn Exchange screen 2 (42255632)

The cinema has been constructed in what was the somewhat underused mezzanine at the Corn Exchange. Its lack of direct connection to the auditorium meant it failed to appeal as a sort of circle or gallery bar.

A designer who has been involved in several independent 'arthouse' style cinemas around the country, including the successful Market Hall in Shrewsbury, was involved with getting the feel right for the venue.

There will be blockbusters, Le Mans 1966 with Matt Damon, The King's Man, Terminator Dark Fate and Rambo Last Blood, among them.

But whereas the nearby Majestic Cinema will show these first it is likely the Corn Exchange will have these week two or later.

Corn Exchange logo (42255634)
Corn Exchange logo (42255634)

The intention is to intersperse these with more arthouse movies, such as The Man In The Hat, which is also being shown on the opening day, and event cinema, such as National Theatre Live. A satellite dish was being erected this week.

Great care has been taken to stop 'bleeding' of sound out either to the accompanying cinema or to the theatre.

Everything is digital with films being downloaded to a computer and then timed to show. No projectionists these days.

To make up for the social distancing and smaller audiences there will be extra performances with eight showings a day in the two theatres, starting at 10am and a final screening at 8.30pm.

The front of the Corn Exchange (42255637)
The front of the Corn Exchange (42255637)

The opening tickets will be £4 each. It will then go up to £8 and £6.50 off peak. It is intended to offer discounted tickets of £4 from Monday to Wednesday.

Tickets can be bought in advance online or from the new concessions kiosk downstairs or the old box office opposite in the smart new foyer.

Brian Long, chairman of the Alive West Norfolk board and leader of West Norfolk Council, said: “The Corn Exchange is one of the jewels in King’s Lynn’s crown that brings people in to town from all over west Norfolk and beyond.

“The formerly under-used upstairs space has been converted into a two-screen cinema. There will be special screenings for parent and babies, parent and toddlers, Silver Screenings (for over 60 year olds) and family screenings at the weekend. It’s another great reason to come in to town.”

Elizabeth Nockolds, deputy leader and cabinet portfolio holder for culture, heritage and health, added: “Alive Corn Exchange has had to close their doors for the last six months but has made good use of that time by completely renovating the building and installing a new two-screen cinema.

“I was pleased to see local businesses, including the Majestic Cinema and King’s Lynn Cinema Club support this development, as they recognise this offers additional entertainment for people coming in to King’s Lynn town centre.

“The Alive West Norfolk team are following government Covid-secure guidance so people can visit the venue with confidence and enjoy sitting back with a tub of popcorn while watching some big screen entertainment.”

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