Norfolk’s cinemas see biggest fall in box office takings since records began

The LEGO Movie. Pictured: Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Vitruvius (Morgan Fre

The LEGO Movie. Pictured: Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). Picture: PA Photo/Warner Brothers Pictures. - Credit: PA

The region's cinemas are hoping for 'stardust' to return in 2015 after their biggest fall in box office takings since records began in 1991.

Good weather, a dearth of blockbuster films and the rise of online viewing sites like Netflix combined to take their toll on viewing figures.

But there are hopes that this year could be one of the best ever, with some huge movies on the horizon.

Trevor Wicks, director of Hollywood Cinemas in Lowestoft, Norwich, Dereham, Fakenham and Great Yarmouth, said: 'We all had a bad year; every cinema in the country suffered.'

He added: 'We have had one of the best Christmases we have ever seen. Things are looking good for 2015 with the new Star Wars, the new Bond film and 50 Shades of Grey for the adults.

'In 2015 everything might turn to stardust again… so long as there isn't a heatwave in the summer.'

Geoff Greaves, director of Merlin Cinemas, which runs the Regal Movieplex in Cromer, said: 'Last year was disappointing.

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'The amazing weather in the summer made it particularly hard for coastal cinemas like Cromer where tourists would rather experience the beauty of the Norfolk coast or the fun of the pier than sit in a dark cinema.'

The lack of big name films like Fast and Furious or a new Pixar film are partly responsible, as well as the rise of streaming services like Netflix. Despite this, total box office takings still stood at more than £1bn and 2015 is predicted to see the highest ticket sales since the 1970s, according industry analyst Rentrak.

The highest grossing film of 2014 was the Lego Movie, with £34.3m. Summer saw some hotly-anticipated sequels, with The Inbetweeners 2 taking second place and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes third.

The 18-rated The Wolf Of Wall Street took £22.7m, the UK's highest ever gross for an 18 certificate and fourth biggest film of the year.

Norfolk cinemas worked to bring new entertainment. The Regal screens National Theatre Live performances from London.

Mr Greaves said: 'Audiences in coastal locations like Cromer really appreciate our events screening series.'

Readers give their views on what needs to change

• Kieran Sparrow, Dereham, City College student, 17 – 'It was a while ago that I last went to the cinema. I usually wait until a good one comes out on DVD. If there were nicer cinemas then I would go – all the ones near me are not very nice. I don't want the cinemas to die as it is nice to go. If they have upgraded technology like 3D then I might go.'

• Antonio Dominguez, Mousehold Street, vet, 38 – 'I only go if the film is really good. I only like the big films where there is a lot going on. I prefer to download films on the internet to watch.'

• Crina David, Angel Road, Barista at Carrellos Coffee Van, 26 – 'It was a long time ago that I went to the cinema, I do not have time at the moment. I used to go quite often, every couple of weeks. I don't watch things like Netflix either.'

• Jack De Hailes, Mill Lane, Barnaby, student, 17 – 'I visit the cinema once a month and feel that the range of films in 2014 was good. I would go more if it was cheaper but with Sky you can get it at home.'

• Adam Tortice, Coronation Terrace, Caston, student, 17 – 'I feel dissatisfied with the range of films on offer. I would go more if they were more interesting and cheaper. I sometimes use Netflix instead.'

• Rob Starling, The Oakes, Ashill, student, 18 – 'I try to go twice a month but it's not cheap. I think good films come and go.'

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