Posts Tagged ‘Cinema’

Some people have said to me that they would rather stay at home and enjoy a film on their big HD TV, Blu-Ray player and surround sound system, than spend money and go out to the cinema where they will be annoyed by people talking, moving or pretty much existing. (You shouldn’t say things like this, when you do, a puppy dies somewhere)

“These hermits are clearly mad”, I would think to myself, as a well managed cinema is a delight and is the rightful home to enjoy film as it was intended.

However I recently went out and bought a Blu-Ray Player with surround sound speakers, to go alongside my Sony Bravia TV, and the improvement has been astonishing.

I am sure it wasn’t always this good. I remember seeing a friends HD TV 4 years ago or so, and I thought the image was really off putting. I am starting to think that Blu-Ray Discs were, and are, still so advanced that equipment such as TVs, Blue Ray Players and HDMI cables are having to run to keep up. But they are gaining.

So far I have only watched Beauty and the Beast (which I had free from a Disney Road show), the musical numbers are spectacular in surround sound and the Beasts roar made my bum tingle. But the great thing that this new kit has done is re-ignite my passion for film.

You can get films free with newspapers, pick DVDs up for £2 in a supermarket, download them, watch them on the many, many channels now available, or, if you are so inclined, pirate them.

So why own DVDs at all?

My Home Entertainment System has changed that. I am giddy once again and I am about to go on a spending spree to re-watch pretty much any film I have ever seen, but this time it will be in HD and the glory of surround sound. Blu-Rays are often packed with even more extras too, they have more value and deserve a place on your shelves.

Home Entertainment Systems allow cinematic films (such as Inception and Tron) to have a stronger survival rate when watched at home, and that can only be a good thing.(Where as literary films such as The Kings Speech make the transfer to home viewing far easier)

The way we watch a film matters, and being in a cinema is still the best way to enjoy them. The build up as the adverts and trailers pass by, the ever so exciting Pearl and Dean fanfare, the hushed tones as the lights dim, and the SHARED experience of enjoying an art form.

To laugh, cry, be thrilled or terrified amongst a crowd of strangers is a beautiful thing. It is society at its best, people coming together to hear a story.

Cinema will always stand alone and fear no competition (as long as they provide a good customer experience) but home entertainment systems should have you buzzing with excitement at the prospect of re-watching The Thing, Jaws, The Godfather, Once Upon A Time In The West, Kung Fu Hustle, The Terminator, Aliens, hell even Road House.

Film is ACE. For a little while I think I forgot that.

Further Reading

This is the Kit I got. I wanted one with small speakers, and you could send off for the original Star wars trilogy on Blu-Ray for free.

And this is the awesome Pearl and Dean music.


We have a wonderful customer base at the cinema who are happy with the service we provide and the prices we charge. As Penrith bites and scratches to hang on to its position as a tourist destination we also have many customers from outside of the area who are delighted at how little we charge in comparison with their home town.

But prices are, and have been increasing, and there is the occasional customer that takes their frustration out on my staff.

I can remember, of course, when chewits were 10p, or those small cans of coke were 7p (I think they are 40p now?) We all remember when petrol was cheaper and each week we notice that our food shopping costs are ever increasing.

According to the UN’s latest update on global food prices, the cost of basic foods is still 37% higher than it was last year

Sadly this does not look like it will change, but we do our best at the cinema to remain competitive. We have rising costs of course, as do our suppliers. At least three companies we dealt with have gone bankrupt in the past year or two, it’s a challenging situation to be in.

Many understand that we are only actually making money for the 20 minutes before a film starts, and that the ticket price is split between the cinema and the distributor. We have no where near the buying power of a supermarket, so of course they will be cheaper than us when it comes to food. But we try to come in lower than a motorway petrol station.

But none of this really matters. Perhaps the issue is the value we put on goods and services? Sadly, due to piracy, £2 DVD bargain bins and newspapers giving away films for free, the perceived value of film is decreasing. It is becoming disposable, which is made worse by the industry responding to these new challenges by making broader, appeal to all, dumber movies … which we will have forgotten about the following year.

So how much is a cinema visit worth? Lets take Transformers 3 in 3D as an example (which cost over $400 Million to make – even more for print and advertising costs). An adult can come to our cinema and pay £7.50 (with the glasses) and watch a film on a big screen with 3D effects, for well over 2 hours and (hopefully) be entertained and have a respite from the stresses of life. With other films (probably not in 3D) perhaps the audience will be moved or inspired. For £5.50.

For an adult to go and look at some animals in a zoo it can cost £12.50.

Laser Quest will usually be around £4 – £5 for 20 minutes or so.

Bowling will be around £5

Last year I paid £4.50 to walk around a Maize Maze for a few hours. (and had a thoroughly nice day)

There are even people paying £10 to put their feet in a bucket of fish for 10 minutes.

Perhaps that’s the future of cinema. Each seat will have a bucket of fish in front of it so you can relax your feet whilst watching the film.

Let me be clear. I am not attacking any of the above. Each one provides either fun or relaxation, and a diversion from work, chores and bills.

They have value …. but why is that perceived value often seen to be greater than engaging with an art form, with culture. (I know, I know.. I am on shaky ground using Transformers as a case study and then talking about culture)

I understand that is annoying to pay more than you did a few years ago to watch a disappointing film. It is therefore important to read reviews, talk to those that have seen it and make an informed decision as to whether you want to risk it.

But if you do risk it, and get lucky, you may just watch a film that will make you laugh or cry, that may touch your soul, that could stay with you for the rest of your life and change the way you perceive the world.

Thats got to be worth £5.50 surely?

Further Reading

My friend Darren Connors film blog, who sadly passed away recently.

An article on cinema costs at Wise Geek

Tips to get a job

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Cinema Related
Tags: , , ,

I manage a cinema. A small cinema, with low staff needs. And yet, we get inundated with requests for work. This could be because of my sparkling personality, or it could be that working in a cinema is seen as an “easy” job. (It’s not “easy”, but the team and customers make it nice.)

When the cinema faced closure I dipped back into the applying for jobs scenario, dusted off my C.V and went to interviews, and so I have decided to give some advice on how to approach it.

This is primarily aimed at school leavers, who I see making the most mistakes.

DO NOT get your mum to ask whether we have vacancies.

DO NOT ask random staff members “got any jobs going?”. This is not a good start.

DO NOT ask about vacancies through a social networking site. (Stop asking Angela for jobs on Facebook.)

DO NOT ask about vacancies whilst coming into the cinema. Is this an afterthought to you? Are you actually looking for work or just hoping one will appear during the course of your usual day?

DO NOT ask about vacancies on the way out of the cinema, in casual clothes, with slushy around your mouth and popcorn bits imbedded in your hoody.

DO write a C.V. but research what it should look like. I suggest two A4 pages maximum, and I would be okay with school leavers getting it down to one page. (If you have a Degree, I dont care what your GCSE results are.)

DO make sure your name and contact details are prominant at the start.

DO target it towards the cinema. At the very least state somewhere that you like films.

DO write a cover letter that tells me why you specifically want to work for me and why you will be a good addition to the team.

DO proofread your C.V and cover letter, as well as your email content if applying online.

DO have an easy to read font and format for your C.V. (NOT COMIC SANS – It’s a C.V not a sign for a carboot sale.) Keep it uncluttered. I am skim reading for details that may get you an interview. Tease me, don’t bore me.

DO find out the name of the person who will read the C.V. Dear Sir/Madam is lazy and does not cut it. It’s a quick phone call to find out a name, and I would have thought that the recent campaign and press coverage would make my name even easier to find out.

DO research the company you are applying for. Who are they owned by? What is their turnover? What does the future hold for them? Any recent press? Who are their customers / target audience? Someone applied for a job a month ago and did not know about the save the cinema campaign!

DO have a mature email address. I am not going to email “ (unless it’s a Sunday). It should be YOUR etc.

DO make sure your social networking sites does you justice. I will be looking, and privacy settings may not help you if one of my staff is on your “friend” list.

If you ask casually I will usually say no, followed by “but KFC are looking for staff”. So far everyone has said “oh, I am not gonna work there”. As it turns out, you won’t be working at the cinema either. This tells me you are not serious about wanting to work, and probably will not want to unblock our toilets or clean up a 6 year old’s slushy and liquorice allsort filled vomit. A fast food chain on your C.V can be a very good thing.

If you are serious about wanting work at the very least dress smartly and walk around every potential employer in Penrith and politely hand in your C.V (ideally with a tailored cover letter addressed to the appropriate person). Smile, and ask that if they do not currently have any vacancies could they keep your C.V on file.

The competition is stiff. I have applications from people with Masters Degrees in Film and years of customer facing experience. The cinema IS part of the film industry, so I will prioritise those who want to work in that industry, rather than just wanting a part-time job. Quention Tarantino used to work in a video store because he at least got to talk about films.

What is it YOU want to do? Try to get a job at least linked to that field in some way.

That’s it for now. Most of the above tips will apply to other employers too.

I may cover interview advice at another date.

There are some more tips at Jobsite.

Good luck.

P.S  No, we are currently not hiring, and that is unlikely to change for a very long time.

Saving the Cinema

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Cinema Related
Tags: , , ,

As many of you know the two screen independent cinema I manage in Penrith faced closure on April 30th due to the Bingo, which occupied the same building, being closed down due to substantial losses. Recently the owner, Alan Towers, was contacted by Vince Hughes of Graves (Cumberland) Ltd offering a new long term lease.

This is wonderful news and is also the reason I am going to start blogging and using social media more. It was tools such as Twitter and Facebook that allowed the community to rally round and organise protests such as this one:

There was support from the BBC as well as local newspapers and Radio Stations as well as national newspapers such as the Guardian (thanks to celebraty support from Richard E Grant and Eddie Izzard.)

However in a dramatic turn of events, caused by an overwhelming response from the Penrith Community, that decision has now been re-thought. The cinema is staying open and a new tenant will be sought for the bingo side.

The Cinema Team would like to say a HUGE thank you to the campaign group who have optimistically, enthusiastically and determinedly fought to save the cinema against, what many believed to be, overwhelming odds.

The Guardian again covered the story here, along with local press. and the ever present Cumbria Crack.

Our gratitude is also heaped upon all those people who supported us by signing the petition (which got us an extension) or helped out with fundraising activities, bought some merchandise, or pledged to buy shares.

You are all wonderful.

I am sorry to say I had my doubts. This seemed like a David and Goliath fight and in the real world David takes a beating. Not so. It seems that if you get enough “David’s” together the impossible can be achieved.

I can speak for the whole team when I say we have been overwhelmed by the support from people not just from Penrith, but all over the world, and we will strive to continue providing a community and customer focused service.

We are looking forward to a great summer and are very excited about showing some great films such as Thor (3D), Pirates 4, X-Men and the Green Lantern.

Thank you all.

Darren Horne and the staff at Penriths Lonsdale Cinema.