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Bridgnorth cinema reopens after 'biggest challenge in its 83-year history'

By Rory Smith | Bridgnorth | Bridgnorth entertainment | Published:

A cinema in Shropshire reopened last week after what bosses call the biggest challenge ever faced in its 83-year history.

Bridgnorth's only cinema - Majestic Cinema - reopened last week after coming close to having to shut due to the pandemic

The Majestic Cinema in Bridgnorth welcomed back scores of big screen-deprived viewers for Christopher Nolan's blockbuster release Tenet, and now hopes there will be 'No Time To Die' when James Bond comes to town in November.

"It took a day to close down and months to reopen," said site manager James Frizzell, who has been working tirelessly with his 12 staff to ensure the cinema can accommodate more than 100 people safely.

The 1930s Art Deco venue on Whitburn Street boasts large screens, including one with nearly 400 seats, meaning about 190 people can still view a film at once while remaining socially distanced.

Its counterpart in Kidderminster, which was also run by Reel Cinemas, fell victim to the financial toll of lockdown and has been permanently closed.

James, who managed the venue in Kidderminster before moving to Bridgnorth 14 years ago, said he was "shocked" to see it close.

"It's a really scary time. It's been tough and I think it's going to be tough in the future," he said.

"Even up until a few weeks before opening I was worried not only for Bridgnorth, but the industry as a whole.

"Disney keeps pulling films. We would have had Mulan for example which would have been good.

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"Warner Brothers have taken a gamble releasing Tenet and thank God they did.

"If James Bond comes out in November I think that will really save the industry. It's a phenomenal release, it's the big one and it sells out every time – I know for a fact we'll sell out."

Like all other businesses battling to reopen, Majestic has implemented a number of measures to keep staff and customers safe.

James said: "It took a day to close down and months to reopen – put it that way.

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"We've got one way in and one way out; stickers telling people to keep left and keep right and directing people where to go all throughout the building; we aren't accepting cash anymore for the time being; we've got screens up and we do Covid checks and cleans every 45 minutes.

"We're spraying seats with a professional disinfectant and customers are asked to wear a mask unless they're eating – we wouldn't have opened if it wasn't safe.

"We're lucky that people have come out to support us here. It's been steady and I've been positive about it.

"Our regular customers came in and supported us the day we opened and although some people are scared, once they come in they'll see just how safe it is."

The cinema was also due a refurbishment this year, which has now been postponed until 2021.

James added that the venue is usually only closed on Christmas Day, and its forced closure throughout lockdown has been the longest closure in its history.

People are encouraged to book tickets in advance by visiting reelcinemas.co.uk/bridgnorth/now

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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