Future bright for Hollywood cinemas

THE man dubbed Norfolk's 'Mr Movie' has pledged a bright future for four cinemas in the county – including Dereham and Fakenham – after buying them out of administration.

Trevor Wicks set up a company called Hollywood Cinema which has secured the future of the screens at Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Dereham and Fakenham.

The 67 staff who work at the four cinemas have all kept their jobs. There are 14 at Dereham and 17 at Fakenham.

Three companies which previously ran the four cinemas were insolvent and had 'ongoing liabilities' of about �200,000; and Jamie Playford, of Norwich-based Parker Andrews, was appointed administrator on September 2. On the same day Mr Wicks – who was a director of the previous chain – bought the business. The Hollywood Cinema in Lowestoft is unaffected as it is run by a separate operator.

Mr Wicks said the main reason for the financial problems had been the driest summer for 20 years in 2009 and then the worst winter for 30 years. 'On December 17, which is normally the last day of term, we had �5,000-worth of school shows cancelled.

'Then it carried on through the rest of December, January and February.

'It was grim, and some days we could not open and the main screen at Yarmouth was shut for two months as it was so cold. Our biggest problem is that our customers live in rural areas and people just did not go out.'

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Mr Wicks – who opened the Hollywood in Lowestoft in 1989 and then took over the cinemas – said following the buy-out it would be 'business as usual'.

He added: 'We are looking to the future and we do not expect those sort of extremes again. I would not be continuing to run these cinemas if I did not think they were worth running, and there was a future for them.'

Mr Wicks urged people to support the cinemas. 'What we continue to do is offer good value for money for local cinemagoers. There are very few towns in the country the size of Dereham and Fakenham – and indeed Yarmouth – with their own cinemas and they should be treasured. We appreciate our loyal customers.'

A creditors' meeting is being held on September 29 when the main creditors are likely to be Revenue and Customs and confectionery suppliers.

Anyone with gift vouchers will be able to use them in the new business.