Film-lover shocked that her family were the only people in a Port Solent Odeon screening in Portsmouth this weekend

AS CINEWORLD screens close across the country, cinema-lovers have been dismayed to find Port Solent Odeon ‘like a ghost town’ this weekend – with movie theatres across the city and the country facing an uncertain future.

By Richard Lemmer
Sunday, 11th October 2020, 3:52 pm

Shocked to hear that Cineworld will close all 130 of its UK screens – including the multiplex in Whiteley – Liss resident Manda Smyth decided to take her three children to support their favourite cinema in Port Solent yesterday afternoon.

But the family were saddened to find the foyer empty of customers and their screening of Cats and Dogs delayed by more than 20 minutes as they were the only ones waiting for the film to begin.

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Cinema-lovers face an uncertain future, with Cineworld, Vue, and Odeon all taking drastic measures to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Stock picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Manda, who works as a carer for the elderly, said: ‘There was not a single person there. I thought there would have been lots of families there as it was a Saturday afternoon screening.

‘It was so weird – it was an eerie feeling.

‘I was so upset to see no-one else there. If people don’t use it, we’ll lose it.’

Last week, Odeon announced that it would look at restructuring roles across its cinemas in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, while the pandemic has meant cinema chain Vue will close a quarter of its UK cinemas midweek.

But independent cinemas in Portsmouth have the potential to weather the storm, according to Portsmouth Film Society coordinator Aysegul Epengin.

The society has held screenings across the city including in the Guildhall and near The Bandstand in Southsea – and the society is set to reopen on Southsea Cinema in a new location.

Aysegul said: ‘Independent cinema can be preserved by us – film societies – and any cinema lover groups.

‘For example, we had 120 people for outdoor cinema The Greatest Showman last night at the Bandstand.

‘We were delighted to see so many people were there. We have an indoor screening at the Guildhall (on Sunday) and 30 tickets reserved in advance.

‘This shows us audiences still exist – but they need safer and Covid-19 secured environments to enjoy films again.’

The society hopes to reveal the location of Southsea Cinema in the coming weeks.

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