By Adam Ray Palmer
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cinema, as I do, and more in particular big budget movies, flashy cinemas and also the littler theatres.
I have been scribbling down what it is about the smaller cinemas that’s so good, so important and basically pivotal to the film industry.
Read on to view my thoughts on why independent cinemas are so important to movie-goers and also Hollywood’s elite…
I have wanted to write this piece for a few months now and I have finally had the time to sit down and collate my thoughts. There’s a whole host of reasons on why independent cinemas are great, but the purpose of this feature is to showcase not only why they are great, but also important.
Let me explain quickly the ‘great’ part. I’ve jotted down three main reasons why most people would think independent cinemas are plucky little places. Most of the theatres have quirky designs, especially London cinemas. There’s a few I have visited down in the capital that take you right back to vintage times. Nowadays, Vue and Odeon for example, they are branded and mimic one another. It’s very rare you see a cinema chain play around with individual branches.
Independent cinemas also give off more a ‘family feeling’ due to the originality. By family feeling I mean they seem to attract more regular cinema-goers and you can get to know each other. I don’t know about you, but I visit my local cinema (Phoenix Leicester) at least twice a week and you slowly build relationships there.
The biggest positive that most people notice about independent cinemas is that, on the whole, ticket prices tend to be cheaper. Day rates especially seem to be very reasonable. I have noticed a few local cinemas around the Midlands that show some films where ‘kids go free’ at the weekends – you can’t argue with that!
However, as great as the above reasons are, this feature is all about the importance of independent cinemas. My first point is kind of a spin off from a statement I said above... authenticity. Cinemas of the independent kind do not normally follow suit with the big chains. Their beauty comes in the form of originality compared to the branded mulch used by Odeon/Vue nationwide. Independent cinemas can be quirkier as they do not need to conform to a generic mould. Where I’m from, there’s a few indie cinemas in Leicester that all standout from the crowd. This links back to the authenticity; the independent cinemas can build their own brand and feel a lot more real than your everyday cinema.
The next two reasons are the most important I think. For me, what I love about the Phoenix for example, is the access to a wider range of film. I get to see festival films and foreign movies which I wouldn’t be able to at your standard Odeon. This year alone, I have watched six foreign language films at the Phoenix and three of them are currently on my top ten list in 2016. It’s also the little things such as Phoenix’s mystery film night. For a cheaper rate, you pay for a ticket to see a film that you have no idea what it will be. It could be a classic or even a future release – that’s the beauty.
The other really important reason as to why independent cinemas are needed is for the many opportunities you could potentially gain. I have been lucky enough to work with Phoenix Leicester for a while now and I know, for a fact, I wouldn’t get my current opportunity with the mainstream theatres. Independent cinemas are so much more approachable and welcoming. In addition, the smaller events that indie cinemas put on provide more opportunities for people to network and build relationships; this can help with making friends or even starting a career.
I just wanted to say the above because I think independent cinemas can be under-appreciated, undervalued at times and they are in fact incredibly important. The opportunities that an independent cinema can offer is the key attribute though - everyone needs a break and sometimes it can come in small but brilliant packages. If you ask many film stars where their lucky break came from, you can bet a hefty amount of money that it was an indie film that screened in their local cinema… hence their importance to the public, the Hollywood elite and the industry as a whole.