Pictures: On Parade, Marlborough's new indie cinema
More than just a cinema, The Parade is a whole entertainment area, a luxury experience and is attracting film-goers from all around. It’s causing a stir, so newburytoday sent Araminta Bentley along to find out more.
Like many towns across the country, Marlborough once had a cinema. It closed down nearly 50 years ago and is now a Waitrose. Now it has, once again, got a screen in the form of The Parade Cinema.
In a converted church building in a previously unloved quarter of the town, it has only been open a few weeks, but the word is out, and helped by the release of the latest Bond movie No Time To Die, is packed to the gunwales with eager cinema-goers.
“We are getting people from all over coming to us,” said manager David Williams. “It is a very different thing to the nearest cinemas, so a lot of people from Swindon and Newbury are coming here.”
The Parade Cinema is a very Marlborough experience. Definitely more Waitrose than Morrison’s. You can get popcorn, but not the jumbo box. You can have a cocktail or a cold pint of beer instead of a giant carton of Fanta. You can get pizza – but not any old pizza. The kitchen offers locally-sourced ingredients and even proudly boasts its own home-smoked goats cheese, which goes on a pizza with caramelised onion.
In fact, The Parade is something of a fancy date night. More so, as some of the seats in the small, 106-seater screening room, are doubles. The love seats are, playfully, on the back row.
The auditorium itself is luxurious, and those not opting for a back row snuggle get wide, comfortable recliners with a well thought out drinks holding area between the seats.
Louise and Adam Sumner had just settled in to a bottle of Prosecco on the large, paved area in front of the building. “We love it here,” said Louise. “We are members and this is the second time for us watching the Bond movie. It is so great to have a cinema here. It is really popular.” Others were opting for a ‘Vesper’ cocktail – an homage to one of the Bond love interests, and with two parts vodka, one part gin and one part vermouth, they reportedly ‘knock yer block off’.
The staff are also all new and, as they say, learning on the job. “There is something just magical about working in a cinema,” said Aggie Wheeler as she manoeuvred around the gathering crowds with a tray of lager. “It is a beautiful building and it is so nice to see people out of an evening in this part of town.”
The staff are a mixture of local young people, and a healthy contingent of Marlborough ladies enthusiastically dishing out food, drinks and ice cream.
James Bond is a guaranteed bums on seats film, but the Parade experience also offers smaller releases, as you might expect to see in an independent cinema.
“There’s a lot of great films coming up for the rest of the year,” said Dave, “We have the really big blockbusters coming in along side other films, including Oscar contenders and art house movies.
“The reaction has been fantastic – I can’t walk down the street without being congratulated. We are a very different feel to the multiplexes. We are a small independent cinema, and we have food and drink on offer here which can be taken into the auditorium. So it is more than just a cinema. It is a whole entertainment area really.”
The paint is barely dry on the walls, and no expense has been spared with the state-of-the-art toilet flushers either. Someone has enjoyed themselves designing the loos, although the intended furniture for the outside and bar areas is still stuck in the supply chain somewhere, meaning they rent the shiny chrome stuff.
Dave Williams says his overall vision for the cinema is one of inclusivity. “I want the cinema to be enjoyed by everyone, whether you are looking for afternoon tea and a film, a Saturday night out with good food and a good film or a way to keep the children entertained for a few hours,” he said.
Throughout lockdown, mini-diggers cleared away years of debris and the former United Reformed Chapel in The Parade and the adjoining Manse transformed into a small, independent cinema with catering and entertaining facilities.
Film buffs can have a named seat for £500 as well as a year’s free membership, giving access to early booking, discounts on tickets, food and drink, as well as newsletters, film news and more.