Chichester’s independent cinema laments Cineworld closure

Chichester’s independent cinema has said it hopes Cineworld will one day return to the city.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 1:10 pm
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 1:13 pm
Walter Francisco, general manager at the Chichester Cinema at New Park
Walter Francisco, general manager at the Chichester Cinema at New Park

Cineworld, which has a multiplex in Chichester, announced this week it plans to close its cinemas in the UK and the US, suspending its operations from Thursday, placing 45,000 jobs at risk.

The company hasn’t given a date for reopening its 663 cinemas, which include 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK.

Walter Francisco, general manager at the Chichester Cinema at New Park, said it was a sad day: “I would certainly express sympathy. It is obviously sad to hear. You can understand that the delay with (releasing) the Bond film hasn’t helped, but it is a shame that Cineworld don’t think they can continue without it. And we will feel it too to a lesser degree.

“But I do hope they come back. It is in our interests that they come back.”

The point is that Chichester Cineworld and the Chichester Cinema at New Park are different but very complementary cinemas, Walter said.

“Cineworld would have been hoping that the new Bond film would fill five, six, seven screens. We have a different pool of films to them. The fact that we have been closed for a while means that we have a lot of stuff that we are able to show to our audiences now and also interesting stuff that they would have to come to us to see because it wouldn’t be shown anywhere else. We are going to go ahead with our adapted programme – and maybe some more happy films!”

After exactly 209 days, Chichester Cinema at New Park is finally reopening its doors on Friday, October 16.

“But I do think Cineworld will come back. There is very much an audience out there starving for films once it is safe to come back. I think something will come back – and hopefully it will be Cineworld.”

The irony is that when Cineworld arrived in Chichester in the early 2000s, some people feared it would be the end for Chichester Cinema at New Park. In fact, it has thrived on being different to the multiplexes.

“I hope Cineworld will be back. We have worked very well with them and we complement each other very well. But something will definitely come back, whether it is Cineworld or one of the others.”