Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Movie bid 'to revitalise theatre'

Fire engine
The town's former cinema burned down two years ago

Blockbuster films are to be shown at a theatre in Gravesend, Kent, in a bid to revitalise the venue and fill a gap after the town's cinema burned down.

Gravesham council said it planned to show a range of films, including recently-released movies, at affordable prices, from January to April.

Four screenings have been planned at the Woodville Halls to test demand, Councillor David Turner said.

But he said: "All the signs are that this is going to be extremely popular."

"There is nothing like watching a film on the big screen," he added.

People have been clamouring for a cinema in Gravesend since the former ABC burned down
Councillor Bryan Sweetland

Mr Turner said the initiative was part of a project to revitalise the Woodville Halls where new seats were installed in September, and the theatre's remodelled programme now included a "wider range" of shows.

He said the "demise of the movie theatre" in the town left "a big hole" in Gravesend's leisure facilities.

Permanent equipment

And he added: "The council has been investigating the possibility of putting cinema into the Woodville Halls for several months.

"I am certain that a trial along these lines is the best way - and the most cost-effective way - to test public reaction."

Councillor Bryan Sweetland added: "People have been clamouring for a cinema in Gravesend since the former ABC burned down two years ago and the council has been keen to fill that void."

He said: "It is very hard to make a commercial success of a small cinema and we are hoping that using the borough's largest auditorium will bring the audiences in and justify our investing in permanent equipment and more frequent screenings."

The four dates earmarked for the trial are 26 January, 23 February, 23 March and 27 April.

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