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Our Plans to Re-open Our Cinema

Posted: Mon 22 Jun

Our Plans to Re-open Our Cinema

In light of yesterday’s announcement from the Prime Minister, that cinemas can start opening in England from 4th July, we would like to inform our supporters of the UPP’s plans. Having spoken to industry experts, other independent cinemas, and - most importantly - our own customers we are planning to re-open The Ultimate Picture Palace on Friday 4th September.

Why September?

Throughout this crisis, we have been taking advice from the UK Cinema Association as well as the Independent Cinema Office, examining the measures the UPP will have to put in place if we are to re-open safely. With the welfare of our staff and customers at the forefront of our minds, we want to take time to put all appropriate safety measures in place. We’re currently working hard on these plans, and will share them with you ahead of our re-opening.

Secondly, as a result of the customer survey we sent out in May (thank you to the 1400+ people who responded!), it was clear to us that many feel that July is too early. A sizeable number of respondents (41%) stated that the earliest they would consider returning to the cinema is August/September. Combined with the fact that, when we do eventually re-open, we will be functioning with a reduced capacity of between 20-30%, it will not be financially viable for the cinema’s public programme to re-open until the autumn.

Our third reason for waiting until September concerns our programming. The independent cinema sector is less reliant on summer blockbusters as the larger multiplexes, and the UPP is no different. Seeing as we also show film 4-6 weeks after their initial release date, it doesn’t make sense to rush re-opening when the new releases that interest our audiences aren’t yet available to us.

What Now?

If we re-open as planned in September, the UPP will have been closed for nearly six months. Like many independent businesses up and down the country, this has had a massive impact on the cinemas finances and future. We have something up our sleeve launching in July which will help the UPP survive this crisis, so please keep an eye out for that.

Until then, you can still find us on social media. We’re posting streaming recommendations every Friday as part of our #UPPFridayFilmClub, and generally talking about what we really miss about running an independent cinema - watching films!

We’re also about to launch a new Blog section on our website. Our staff will be regularly updating this section with film-based posts as well as behind-the-scenes articles about what it’s like to work at Oxford’s only independent cinema.

Last but not least…

You may have recently seen that we are proud recipients of a £12,683 grant from the BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience fund. A huge thanks to the BFI Film Audience Network for awarding these essential National Lottery funds to the UPP and many other independent cinemas around the UK.

This has been a hugely challenging period for the business as well as the staff and volunteers at the UPP. We can’t say thank you enough to all the people who have purchased gift vouchers, taken out new memberships, and sent us messages of goodwill. The responses we received as a result of our audience survey in May was incredibly heartening.

Thank you and please stay in touch.

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