A CINEMA has opened its doors for the first time in more than 40 years.
The Gaumont Plaza in Flint held its first screening on Friday with a showing of Bridget Jones’ Baby, after months of hard work by its owner to get it open by Christmas time.
The building on Church Street, which closed in November 2011, originally housed the Plaza cinema and was subsequently used as a bingo hall for more than 30 years.
Ashley Whyatt, who runs two small independent cinemas in Essex and Kent, placed a formal bid to buy Flint’s former Palace Bingo and Social Club to create a cinema in August this year.
Alejandro Whyatt, 17, who will run the cinema for his father Ashley
The businessman, originally from Leicester, placed the bid after his 17-year-old son, Alejandro, found the property for sale online.
“We opened the cinema on Friday and it was a little bit low profile but it was quite pleasing. The thing was basically we wanted to get it open before Christmas kicked in and then hopefully we can build it up from there,” Mr Whyatt said.
“The quality of picture is absolutely excellent as we have a 4K machine, which was quite expensive but I think people really appreciate that as it looks really good.”
Mr Whyatt admitted that opening the cinema has been a challenge, but said it’s worth it.
“Clearly we aren’t getting any subsidies from anyone so the facilities will be improved as and when we go along.
“We only have one screen at the moment, which makes things a little bit more challenging, but you’ve got to weigh up the positives in that Flint hasn’t had a cinema in more than 40 years.
“As far as improvements go, we haven’t really put a time frame on anything, as things transpire then we can sort of do things, but we are saying ‘when it comes it comes’.”
Cllr Ian Roberts, Mayor of Flint, was at the opening and described it as “absolutely fantastic” news that Flint now has a cinema for the community to enjoy.
He said: “This was the first film I have watched in there in 41 years. We owe a tremendous gratitude to the Whyatt family for believing in it and converting it back to cinema use.
“There is a great deal of excitement in the town with the fact it’s been bought and reopened.
“I am confident that the good people of Flint will support the cinema and I’m delighted that really up to date films are being shown in our community.”
A standard seating ticket at the cinema is only £3, and visitors can have a premier seat for £4. Mr Whyatt said to the Leader previously that they wanted to keep their prices low to attract more people.
Cllr Roberts wanted to extend his thanks to the Whyatt family for taking on the cinema.
“Again I’d like to give my personal thanks to Mr Whyatt and his family for retaining the historic features in this Grade II listed building and for providing the cinema at a very reasonable price for people in Flint,” he added.
“Not a penny of public money has gone into this and the money that’s been invested is from their own resources. They had a vision and their vision is now reality.”
The cinema has a number of showings coming up, including the latest Star Wars movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Moana and Bridget Jones’ Baby.
For more information about the cinema and film timings, visit http://cinemaflint.co.uk/index.php
See full story in the Leader