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Tywyn cinema hopes Harry Potter magic will rub off

Still from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is realeased on 19 November

The new owners of a small-town independent cinema are so determined to make a go of it they've secured the new Harry Potter film on its first day of release.

Tywyn film fans would otherwise have had to travel an hour to Aberystwyth to see the movie, but the Magic Lantern opens a two-week run of The Deathly Hallows on the same day as the multiplexes.

Geoff Hill, joint owner of the Tywyn picture house, says they won't make much profit, but he's happy to go ahead with this and a number of other new initiatives to move the business forward.

"We'll pay an arm, a leg and our spleen for the film. But why should the people of mid Wales wait over a month to see a film the rest of the country has already seen?"

Geoff, the owner of a circus tent hire firm near Aberdyfi, and Mark Bond, a motorsports events organiser from Machynlleth, bought the cinema in May after Bob and Avril Garrod put it up for sale after 30 years in charge.

The Magic Lantern Cinema, Tywyn
The cinema has seats for an audience of over 360

"We're both very astute businessmen and put a lot of research into the project," said Geoff. "We heard about the sale on the Friday, viewed it on the Monday, put an offer in on the Tuesday and two weeks later, we'd bought it!

"It is a challenge. We don't get any money out of it yet - we make enough to pay the staff and that's it."

In a break with tradition, the Magic Lantern will not close during the winter and will show more than the usual blockbusters.

So far, their programme of films has included the winner of this year's best foreign film at the Oscars and The Illusionist, a French animation.

"It's always going to be a cinema foremost, but me and my wife Annie, the manager, think of it as developing into a small, slightly quirky indie arts centre," Geoff explained.

"We're looking into putting in a café/bar this winter and developing that into a small second venue.

"Annie also wants to start a community outreach company and we're looking at becoming a live venue and getting on the stand-up circuit."

Tywyn cinema auditorium
The cinema has been commended in a report on the town's future

One investment Geoff knows he must make soon is the purchase of a new projector. Currently, the cinema can only show films on 35mm which is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly for less mainstream films.

"We'll still keep the fantastic old 35mm though," said Geoff. "We've started showing old films; one of our biggest houses was for a showing of the original Italian Job.

"Everyone turned up in suitably '60s-related clothing and had a slice of pizza and a glass of prosecco!"

Despite the success of such nights, Geoff is very aware that running a single screen independent cinema won't be easy.

"Sometimes we've only got 10 people in, which is a little soul-destroying, but it's all about building the community's confidence in the place.

"The reason we're in it is because it's a beautiful old building and we love film.

"We will eventually turn it into not just a profitable business, but a real asset to the local area."

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