Tuesday 17th May saw Loughborough’s brand new cinema launch with a private opening gala. On arrival guests were greeted by staff on a red carpet and official photographs were taken. Everyone was offered canapés and various alcoholic beverages in the impressive Cineworld Foyer at the new Baxter Gate complex, situated just out of the main part of the town centre. The official public opening happened at midnight on Wednesday 18th May, with the first viewing of X-Men.
I was lucky enough to be invited along on behalf of Label to interview Phil Jones, Cineworld Loughborough’s General Manager, and Justin Skinner, Cineworld’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. I asked them a few questions about the lead up to the launch and choosing new areas for cinemas:
In terms of choosing a location for a new Cinema, what made it Loughborough?
Justin: Loughborough is a town with a good part of 60,000+ population, so it’s a big market audience for us. I think what’s really exciting within the Loughborough audience is that you’ve got a good part of 17,000 students, who love going o the cinema, so it’s a perfect fit really. Even in the wider catchment area you’re pushing up to 100,000 [people]so that’s one of the essential parts of deciding where to put a new cinema. In addition, there’s a cinema in town, but it’s an older one, so we know that the first generation multiplexes are coming to the end of their life and people expect t see state-of-the-art cinemas with stadium seating, state-of-the-art digital projection and amazing foyers. In addition to that we’re working with Citygrove who are the landlords behind Baxter Gate, so we’re also bringing to the town other restaurant operators so that it becomes a great night out.]n]
I was going to ask that actually- so was part of the plan for the complex to be next to the likes of Nando’s and Pizza Express?
Justin: Cineworld is the business that generates the audience, the footfall for their businesses. In a funny sort of way, Nando’s and the cinema are synonymous with each other. We’re amazed at how many people love going to Nando’s and then going to the movies- and that’s what a great night out is, going to have something to eat before indulging in popcorn and coke, sitting on one of these very comfortable seats in front of a big screen watching a movie.
How has the lead up to the launch process gone for you?
Phil: It’s gone very smoothly, we’re running to time which is the key objective when we’re starting so far out. For me this process started back in January when I was appointed and I’ve been busy since then appointing the team first and foremost, and that includes the Starbucks store downstairs, and then ensuring that the team have gone through the appropriate selection process and then probably more importantly the training process to ensure that they’re ready for when we open our doors this evening.
Are there any plans for any other new venues across the country?
Justin: Yes there are- our next cinema that we’re going to be opening is in Dalton Park, up in the North East. We have a couple more cinemas lined up over the course of the next six months, in fact we’ve got a very large opening programme over the course of the next four or five years. […] We continue to grow, we’re a business that knows we’ve got a great formula for delivering a successful customer experience.
Any funny stories in the lead up to the opening that you can share with us?
Phil: I can tell you a story, not necessarily funny, but opening a cinema of this size and magnitude is no mean feat and it’s not a straightforward process to get to that stage. We’ve had to use our colleagues from a number of our local cinemas to get this ready. It just shows you that behind the scenes, it’s not a case of just coming in and opening the doors. It’s a massive project to get a cinema off the ground and it takes the whole Cineworld family to make sure that we can bring a cinema to you.
Is it all ready to open after the launch this evening?
Phil: Absolutely, ready to go!Justin: Not just after this evening, but this evening. Our first public screening of X-Men is at midnight, because the film doesn’t open effectively until tomorrow. Then we’re ready to go for what should be a cracking weekend. X-Men is another big blockbuster in a long line of great movies over the summer- we have ‘Unlimited Cards’ priced at £16.90 to go and see as many films as you like, with discounts in Cineworld, in Starbucks and at our local partners within Baxter Gate as well.
Many thanks to Phil and Justin for taking the time to discuss some of the behind-the-scenes work in the lead up to the Cineworld opening.
Phil later took the student group of VIPs on a tour around the new 8-screen, 1087 seat complex. Backstage, we were lucky enough to be shown the projector room and several of the screens, the smallest of which holds less than 40 people.
Various speeches were given by Phil Jones and the Mayor of Charnwood amongst others before an official cutting of the ribbon
The Mayor stated that:
“One of the other things that it will do, […] is to add another element to the nighttime economy, which seems mainly concentrated around pubs and clubs.”
“We sincerely hope the complex will be popular and draw people into the town from neighbouring areas and provide a boost for the early evening economy.”
The opening ribbon was cut by the Mayor, the CEO of Cineworld, Moshe Greidinger, and Citygrove’s Chairman, Toby Baines (pictured) before the pre-screening of Me Before You.
All staff were truly hospitable making for a very enjoyable and insightful evening at Loughborough’s newest development.
Label will bring you a more technical insight into the new Cineworld in our next issue of Label, out on June 6th.