Historic seaside cinema set to reopen as ‘The People’s Picturehouse’
One of Britain’s most iconic cinemas is set for a dramatic rebirth – with the general public taking centre stage as the stars of the show.
Blackpool’s historic Regent Cinema will reopen its doors next month for the first time since 1969. And, in a plot twist Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of, owner Richard Taylor is giving film fans a starring role.
Having spent two years restoring the Grade II listed building to its former glory, North West businessman Taylor is relaunching the Regent as “The People’s Picturehouse” with the general public offered the chance to choose which movies are screened and even host their very own film festival.
Preesall-based Taylor is a man on a mission. He said: “I bought the building back in 2013 but ultimately it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to us all.
“I want to take the cinema experience back to its roots. Back in 1921 when the Regent first opened its doors, it was a place where people could escape the toils of daily life and enjoy a few precious hours with friends and family. This is the spirit we are trying to rekindle with ‘The People’s Picturehouse’.
“Blackpool has had its ups and downs over the years but there’s one thing I’m absolutely convinced of and that is that people in Blackpool and beyond want and deserve to have a good time. They certainly know how to have a good time and it’s our job to make sure we deliver that. So, in classic showbusiness style, we’re giving the people what they want.
“To start as we mean to go on we’re asking the public to decide which films we’re going to show on opening weekend. We’ve drawn up a shortlist of ten* (listed in full below) and the film which receives the most votes will be the one we show on opening night, Friday 29 July. The second most popular choice will be shown on the Saturday night and on the Sunday we’re showing a double bill of films from 1969, the year the venue last operated as a cinema (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Carry on Camping).
“But it’s not just about the opening – we want to go further. You often see film and music festivals curated by celebrities but why not the public? So we are also giving people the chance to host their very own film festival here at the Regent with their name up in lights for all to see. We think this could be a great experience for birthdays, parties and special occasions.
“The Regent has an incredible history but our job now is to look forward not back and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter unfolds.”
To provide a platform for the public to get involved, Taylor has just launched a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/regentcinemabp), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/The-Regent-Cinema-Blackpool-503044146423165/) and website ( www.regentcinemablackpool.co.uk) for the 120-seat cinema. Here, film fans can choose which of the following classic movies will be shown on opening weekend: Pulp Fiction, The Godfather 1, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Casablanca, Ferris Buellers day off, Psycho, The Shawshank Redemption, Jaws 1, Back to the Future and Top Gun. The winning movies will be revealed on 15th July and tickets for opening weekend can be booked via the website on a first come, first served basis (from 15th July 5.00pm). Admission is £10 per person and includes a complimentary drink and snack for all opening weekend customers. The first 2016 people to sign up will receive free membership to the Church Street cinema and a discount on drinks and snacks which will be available from the specially-created 1921 Bar at the rear of the cinema. Members can also nominate potential candidates to host their own film festivals which will start from September.
Plans are also afoot for a series of themed film weekends around major events in Blackpool such as the Illuminations Switch-On, Strictly Come Dancing filming, Rebellion Punk Festival and the annual Magic Festival.
Historic England granted the building Grade II listed status earlier this year, meriting the listing in the national context.
In addition to the newly restored cinema, the famous Regent building also houses a vibrant antiques and craft centre selling antiques, crafts and jewellery seven days a week during the daytime which has now been trading for over 2 years with 3 floors full of stalls and free entry.