My apologies to anyone who, flicking through the Southend Echo this morning, and came across the “Big Coversation” section. Yep, my ugly mug front and centre.
The issue was cinemas, and whether there is demand and room for a second cinema in Southend (I was also asked about Basildon, but not really knowing the town or using its cinema I declined to comment). What I did say, for those not blessed (Cursed -Ed) with my smiling face in their morning paper, is as follows:
“My fiancee and I go to the cinema a lot. I think a second cinema in Southend is a great idea because it would be competition for the Odeon.
“I have had issues with it not showing films I want to see, for example The Dallas Buyers Club. That was an Oscar-nominated film but wasn’t showing in Southend. I certainly think there’s room for competition.
“I’m slightly concerned for the location, as it’s a built up area and I’m not sure there is room for a sizable cinema. Somewhere out of town would be better placed for it with a bigger cinema and less chance of it putting the Odeon out of business.“
I haven’t been misquoted, but I do want to make a couple of clarifying points.
Firstly, my disagreements with Southend Odeon not showing particular films will not be a new subject to regular readers (Hello to both of you!). I kicked up a storm over Dallas Buyers Club because that was a major film, and indeed two of its stars went on to win Oscars for their performances. Southend Odeon did end up showing a few screenings, but it was months after the release date, and I had already gone to Stratford to watch it there.
Secondly, my concerns over the Seaway Cineworld plan are not purely down to the space available. That part of Southend, in fact that entire strech of the seafront, is indeed a very built up area. We’ve seen from the recent floods that there are some serious problems which need to be addressed — though I wouldn’t wish to state, without looking at the evidence, that building on a car park would make the flooding worse. There is also a serious want of parking affordable and convenient parking facilities in the town centre, and replacing a car park with something which will attract more traffic and create more parking need.
As a film-lover, I am thrilled that Cineworld are interested in coming to Southend. As a town centre resident, I am far from sure that this would be the best placement.
I do, though, note that the four responses printed to the Southend proposals are broadly positive, and nobody seems to much doubt that the demand and capacity for another cinema is there, other concerns aside.