Like virtually every other form of out-of-the-house entertainment over the past two years, cinemas – even the big chain ones – have had a tough time weathering the pandemic, with box office figures only just starting to look less peaky in recent months thanks to the likes of tentpole crowdpleasers like Spider-Man: No Way Home. This is to say nothing of independent venues, which, according to Film Hub Wales, have seen a reduction of 50-70% in audiences since the COVID pass restrictions were introduced in Wales. Some have even had to temporarily close their doors altogether. It’s on this bleak backdrop that an inspirationally-minded new Sky Original film, Save The Cinema, is being released tomorrow, bolstered by some faces that’ll be very familiar to fans of J.K Rowling’s somewhat tarnished Wizarding World.
Cast your mind back to 1993 in Carmarthen, when the Lyric Theatre was due to be demolished by the town council to make way for a shopping centre. Not a popular decision, as you can imagine, including with local hairdresser and theatre enthusiast Liz Evans. Evans enlisted the aid of the then Mayor of Carmarthen, Richard Goodridge, to mount a campaign to save the cinema – but he wasn’t the only help from on high she managed to bag: one letter to Hollywood legend Stephen Spielberg later and the Lyric Theatre found itself suddenly playing host to a very special premiere of a certain dinosaur movie…
This is the real-life basis for Save The Cinema‘s story, which stars Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts cast members, Tom Felton and Samantha Morton as Evans and Goodridge, respectively (though Felton’s character has been switched to a postie/town councillor in the film). Additional homegrown talent comes in the form of veteran thesp Jonathan Pryce and writer Lorraine King, whose story has been adapted for the screen by Piers Ashworth (Blithe Spirit, St. Trinian’s). The film’s director, meanwhile, is Sara Sugarman (Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen, Vinyl).
As well as getting a TV premiere, Save The Cinema is also getting widespread distribution around independent cinemas in Wales – a list of which you can find further below.
For these venues, the timing couldn’t be better. “Cinema is our heritage, it’s the past and the future. It can bring to life any moment of time or place, whether real or imagined,” Gareth Bailey of Aberystwyth Arts Centre explains. ”The cinema is the place where filmmakers can share their dreams with audiences all across the world, and where audiences can come together to share the communal experience of enjoying a film together. Cinema shares an equally important role in our heritage as theatre or literature, and can capture a magical moment on film that will be with us forever.”
Film Hub Wales are promoting the film as part of its ‘Made In Wales’ project, celebrating films with Welsh connections in order to “help shape our sense of national and cultural identity.” This includes a film catalogue of over 1000 shorts and features, available to view here.
A special behind-the-scenes look at Save The Cinema, Behind The Curtain, will air after its premiere on Sky Max at 12.30am on Sat 15 Jan.
Save the Cinema will be available on Sky from Fri 14 Jan as well as in the following cinemas:
Aberystwyth Arts Centre (Fri 14-Fri 21 Jan)
Brynamman Public Hall (Fri 14-Fri 21 Jan)
Cellb, Blaenau Ffestiniog (Fri 14-Mon 17 Jan)
Gwyn Hall, Neath (Fri 14-Fri 21 Jan)
Kinokulture, Oswestry (Fri 14-Mon 17 Jan)
Lyric Theatre, Camarthen (Fri 14-Fri 28 Jan)
Pontio, Bangor (Fri 14-Thurs 20 Jan)
Premiere Cinemas, Cardiff (Fri 14-Fri 21 Jan)
Reel Cinema, Port Talbot (Fri 14-Thurs 20 Jan)
Showcase Cinema, Nantgarw (Mon 14 Jan)
The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth (Mon 14-Thurs 20 Jan)
Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard (Mon 14-Weds 16 Jan)
Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan (Fri 14-Tue 18 Jan)
Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells (Fri 14-Tue 18 Jan)
From Mon 17 Jan
Taliesin, Swansea (Mon 17 Jan)
From Fri 21 Jan
Chapter, Cardiff (Fri 21-Fri 28 Jan)
From Fri 28 Jan
The Torch, Milford Haven (Thurs 28 Jan-Tue 1 Feb)
Find out about Film Hubs Wales’ ‘Made In Wales’ initiative here.
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