News Column

Cinema that helped to save the industry celebrates 25 years of movies

June 26, 2013


NOTTINGHAM'S first multiplex cinema marks its 25th anniversary this weekend. Showcase Cinema in Redfield Way will be hosting a party on Friday night featuring a VIP reception and preview screenings of Disney Pixar's latest animation, Monsters University 3D.

Among those attending will be Richard Leonard, the only current member of staff who was there at the opening on June 28, 1988.

I've been having the time of my life, says Richard, 55, from Redhill, the director of film buying for all 20 Showcase Cinemas across the UK.

I trained in the States for a few months with a view to opening Showcase Nottingham, which was the company's first multiplex in the UK, says Richard, who was born in Essex.

People really embraced what was a brand new concept at the time. The industry was on its knees. The cinemas were run down and there was no investment in it.

Multiscreen cinema saved the industry by offering a much better experience, something that home entertainment couldn't and still can't compete with.

Showcase Nottingham, which has 12 screens, seats 3,000 people and employs more than 70 staff, was opened by Police Academy stars Leslie Easterbrook and Marion Ramsey. The first films to be screened were The Last Emperor, Moonstruck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Three Men and a Baby.

Since then more than 5,000 films have been shown there.

One of my highlights was the world premiere of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, says Richard. To land the world premiere for any film is such a big deal. We played up the Robin Hood connection. Warner Bros came here and saw the castle and the caves.

Although Kevin Costner wasn't here we had a lot of the cast and a banquet at Nottingham Castle. They'd lined the route with flaming torches, medieval music, horsedrawn wagons. It was a fantastic night.

My greatest memories are going to premieres and being on the set of films and meeting the stars. People like Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig, Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Stiller and Will Smith.

When Daniel Craig was filming Skyfall, Sony took us out to Turkey and we had cockove tails with him.

And I flew to New Zealand to watch Peter Jackson filming the Hobbit.

UK cinema attendance has grown over the past 25 years from 78 million per year in the 1980s to 163 million today. The industry is close to reaching Pounds 1 billion in box office takings per year for the first time.

Although the mainstay of the cinema audience is 18 to 25-year- olds, there has been a recent increase in the r-fifties. Opera, ballet and theatre broadcasts live by satellite is a recent development that is proving popular, says Richard. But the biggest change has been the technology.

We are fully digital and 3D has grown significantly.

Julian Carr, chief executive of Showcase Cinemas' UK theatre operations says: We've witnessed some iconic moments in film and cinema technology over the past 25 years and we are pleased to be celebrating this landmark birthday.

School children have been invited to see Monsters University 3D during the day, followed by a drinks reception in the evening where guests will include local sports stars, business leaders and politicians.

Richard's top 10 films of the past 25 years 1. Million Dollar Baby 2. Lion King 3. Sixth Sense 4. Borat 5. Silver Linings Playbook 6. Up In The Air 7. Skyfall 8. Jurassic Park 9. Toy Story 10. Gladiator

TELL US YOUR FILM FAVOURITES What are your favourite cinematic experiences? Join the debate online

People really embraced what was a brand new concept at the time Richard Leonard ''

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