Norfolk: independent cinema lover saves Dereham picture house

Norfolk: independent cinema lover saves Dereham picture house

The new owner of Dereham’s Hollywood Cinema has spoken of his plans for the business and confirmed no jobs will be cut.

Pictured, far left, Lee Allwood, new owner, with his son Jonny Allwood, next left, and the eight members of staff who will all be keeping their jobs. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes
Pictured, far left, Lee Allwood, new owner, with his son Jonny Allwood, next left, and the eight members of staff who will all be keeping their jobs. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes
The Norfolk cinema chain went into administration yesterday, Thursday, February 7, with its Great Yarmouth and Anglia Square branches set for closure.

But a new owner is set to take the reins in Dereham, after Lee Allwood, director of the family-run Orion Cinema, stepped in to bid for the closing business just days before the chain’s collapse.

Mr Allwood, from Surrey, said: “We’ve been running an independent cinema for 20 years, since 1995, in Burgess Hill, Sussex.

“We love independent cinema and bringing it to the community.

“We heard the unfortunate news about the cinema here and put in a bid which luckily was accepted.”

Mr Allwood, 58, said the cinema will remain open to the public during the transition period, and confirmed all eight members of staff would keep their jobs.

He said: “It’s all happened in a very short space of time.

“But we love running a cinema – it’s very rewarding. We enjoy seeing children come and enjoy films with their families – it makes it all worthwhile.

“We’ve got great people working here and it’s in safe hands.

“We will be looking to bring in some good family films next week for half term.

“We wanted to ensure continuity and we don’t want to have to close the cinema at all.”

The Hollywood Cinema branch in Dereham has been bought by Orion Cinema. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesThe Hollywood Cinema branch in Dereham has been bought by Orion Cinema. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes
He added: “We’ll honour all current promotions and loyalty cards – there’s no immediate plan to change how we do business.

“We’re looking at the possibility of bringing in live theatre shows.

“We do that at our other cinema and I think Dereham would welcome that. It’s concerts, people like Cliff Richard, National Theatre plays, and musicals. They go down very well.

“We’re always as a company looking to improve and invest in the picture, sound, and comfort of our cinemas, to make sure this is a place customers want to come.”

The Dereham cinema is set for a rebrand in the coming months, as Mr Allwood said the company plans to trade as Orion Cinema.

He said: “The business is still in administration but we’ve signed documents to ensure we can come and trade and take full ownership of the business.

“We certainly will be regular visitors here – whatever happens.

“We like to hear people talking about ‘my cinema’ and ‘our cinema’ – that’s our goal.”

Source: Dereham Times

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