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Cinema City in Norwich to temporarily close

PUBLISHED: 14:05 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:46 06 October 2020

Cinema City in Norwich. It is temporarily closing again because of Covid. Pic: EDP

Cinema City in Norwich. It is temporarily closing again because of Covid. Pic: EDP

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A cinema operating for more than 40 years in one of Norwich’s oldest buildings is closing down again because of Covid.

The late Kingsley Canham, pictured at Cinema City, who ran the movie house from 1979-2002. Pic: EDPThe late Kingsley Canham, pictured at Cinema City, who ran the movie house from 1979-2002. Pic: EDP

A cinema operating for more than 40 years in one of Norwich’s oldest buildings is closing down again because of Covid.

Cinema City in Suckling House, St Andrew’s Street, which only reopened in the summer after lockdown restrictions eased, is closing “temporarily”, partly driven by the recent announcement to delay the new James Bond film.

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Cinema City in Norwich. It is temporarily closing again because of Covid. Pic: EDPCinema City in Norwich. It is temporarily closing again because of Covid. Pic: EDP

It is one of 128 Picturehouse and Cineworld cinemas in the UK – also including one in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, Suffolk, which are all temporarily closing. The closures will put up to 5,500 UK jobs at risk and 45,000 world-wide. Cinema City posted on its social media sites: “It’s with great sadness that we will be temporarily closing all of our Picturehouse Cinemas from Friday 9 October.”

The news sparked dismay from local businesses and customers and came as the Odeon chain announced it was reducing its hours.The chief executive of Cineworld, which owns Picturehouse, Mooky Greidinger, said: “This is not a decision we made lightly and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all our markets – including meeting and often exceeding local health and safety guidelines in our theatres...we are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in.

“Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any further plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time.”

The late Kingsley Canham, who was in charge of Cinema City from 1979-2002. Pic: EDPThe late Kingsley Canham, who was in charge of Cinema City from 1979-2002. Pic: EDP

It is understood cinemas will close from Thursday with no bookings available at Cinema City from this date.

The closures come after the lack of new movies being released because of Covid – including the latest James Bond film No Time to Die which was further delayed from November to spring 2021.

Cinema City started in 1978, situated in a medieval merchant’s house dating in part to the 14th century and owned by Norwich City Council. It attracted independently made films as well as blockbusters, and run for decades by the late Kingsley Canham, but was taken over in recent years by the Picturehouse group. In 2004 it was closed for a major refurbishment, creating extra screens, opening again in 2006. It was renowned for the fact you could take alcoholic drinks purchased from the bar, in glasses, into the cinema.

But with closures because of Covid and then a reluctance for movie-goers to sit in cinemas amid the pandemic along with the lack of new releases and others such as Disney’s Mulan being released straight to its streaming site, bypassing movie houses altogether, cinemas have struggled to keep going.

History of Cinema City

The cinema occupies Suckling House, a partly medieval merchant’s house in St Andrews Street, named after the Suckling family who owned it in the 16th century.

Suckling Hall was last used as a residence in 1915. It was bought by Ethel Mary and Helen Caroline Colman in 1923 who restored it and added Stuart Hall, intended as a public hall with a capacity of around 450 people. Cinema City first opened at Suckling Hall in April 1978 as a cinema seating 230. Renovations took place in 1981 including a new projection box, stairs and box office. The Great Hall became a bar and a kitchen was added so that a restaurant could be operated too. The cinema moved temporarily to the Norwich Playhouse in 2004 while it was rebuilt as a three-screen cinema, which reopened in 2007, largely funded by an Arts Council grant of more than £3m. Kingsley Canham was Cinema City’s manager and programmer from 1979 to 2002. He passed away in 2018, aged 73.


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