Cinema relocates to former church
ABANDONED pews, once lined with worshippers, are being filled again with devotees of a different kind.
Film-lover Andrew Sage has found a new, permanent location for Bexhill Cinema - the church in London Road.
Mid-way through transforming St John's into a thriving youth centre, Cllr Michael Ensor, who announced his plans to regenerate the old United Reform centre last September, took a call from Andrew, who has been showing films for the last few months in Manor Barn, Church Street.
"I was thinking of having a cinema in here, as well as gigs and conferences. But I thought it would take me quite a while before I got it organised," said Michael.
"I thought it was brilliant. Andrew had all the equipment and the knowledge - I had the facilities. As a councillor, this fits perfectly. It gives people somewhere to go and something to do in Bexhill."
Andrew, who admits his business was struggling at Manor Barn, says support has flooded in for the new location.
The pair climbed scaffolding to hang a permanent seven-metre wide screen, which will also be used for bands to project visuals on in gigs. Purple cushions now lie on prayer mats, and a popcorn stand sits in the entrance.
Black plastic taped over the windows is soon to be replaced with blackout drapes, and a few more plug sockets will be installed, but overall, the pair say, the transition was remarkably smooth.
Now, blockbusters like The Prince of Persia and Twilight Eclipse will become a regular feature in Bexhill town centre.
The only issue the two have clashed over is the programme.
Andrew, who has previously shown edgy, arthouse films, has tweaked his choices to fall in line with Michael's youth-oriented agenda for the building.
As part of this vision, the pair plan special screenings for the local branch of the National Autistic Society, and say any other community groups are welcome to approach them.
"The feedback we are getting is lots of people are interested in the idea," said Michael. "So we think it's worth exploring. Now we need to know if there's sufficient interest in the town."
"I'm not trying to make it like The Odeon," said Andrew. "But that's it's strength. It's a unique building, with bags of character."
Bexhill Cinema is currently showing films on Tuesday and Wednesday, on every other week. The pair hope this will soon step up to every week. The cinema is next there on August 3-4, and will show Bolt, Casablanca, Ratatouille and Greece.
Ticket prices are: adult 6.70, seniors, children and concessions 4.70, or a family ticket (two adults, two children) for 19.
For details, listings and contact details, visit www.likecinema.co.uk. Listings will also be printed in the Observer's leisure section.