Blackwood’s Maxime cinema may not reopen if coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Cinemas in England have been allowed to open since July 4.
Caerphilly Observer understands that cinemas in Wales could reopen from July 27, if given the go-ahead by Welsh Government, but may not be allowed to sell food and drink items – unlike in England.
That puts Blackwood’s cinema in an awkward business position. Unlike the big chains, the independently-owned Maxime only charges £3.50 admission and relies on revenue from food and drink sales.
Steven Reynolds, director of owners Picturedrome, has written to Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, to explain the cinema’s situation.
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Mr Reynolds, who was awarded a 2018 MBE for services to the UK cinema industry, wrote: “The main problem we have, as with all cinemas in Wales, is that our margins are extremely low. Admission prices in Wales are much lower than sites in England, and the document being proposed by yourselves on reopening is forbidding us to sell our usual food and drink to our customers, although this is permitted in England.
“Even before closure we removed Pick and Mix as a precautionary measure, with the virus, and we have further measures in place as per your document. The fact is that without the usual refreshment sales, the cinema, along with all others in Wales would not be viable.”
As an example, of the £3.50 it would cost for a ticket to see the new James Bond film No Time to Die, now due out in November, £2.70 plus VAT goes to distributor Universal.
According to Mr Reynolds, that leaves around 20p for the cinema.
Blackwood independent councillor Nigel Dix said the cinema was a vital asset for the town.
He said: “Welsh Government needs to listen to businesses to find out what they need to reopen.”
The Maxime, which employs 37 staff, reopened in 2014 after a £1.5m investment from Picturedrome and before lockdown regularly attracted 300,000 visits a year.
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