LEADERS behind a historic cinema are desperate for more community support after suffering numerous financial setbacks as a result of the pandemic.
Penistone Paramount - a multi-use venue which has shown films and hosted performances since 1915 - experienced its longest-ever closure due to the pandemic and is still feeling the knock-on effects and fierce competition from online streaming services.
Managing director Brian Barnsley has no complaints about the level of government support given throughout the pandemic, but hopes ticket sales will keep rising.
Brian said: “In August, we made 64 per cent of revenue we made in an average month before the pandemic, so sales were down 36 per cent.
“Our live shows are actually selling even better than before, but films are a bit of a different story.
“The threat of streaming doesn’t help.
“We’re up and down like a yo-yo at the minute.”
The management team said there is a lot of remaining uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 in the industry, and wants to reassure customers that the cinema is still being sanitised between showings and mask-wearing is still encouraged.
He said the venue needs to be around three-quarters full in order to make money, which was impossible when social distancing was still in place.
The cinema - which has a capacity of 341 people - underwent a £110,000 refurbishment last summer to restore it to its former glory and managed to open on September 18 for six weeks, until it was forced to close again for the third lockdown.
Brian said the UK is one of the smaller corners of the world when it comes to its stake in the global blockbuster market - which gives the British cinema industry less driving force than giants like the USA and China.
The knock-on effect of this is that small independent UK cinemas - like the Paramount - have to fight to compete with bigger cinema chains and keep up scheduling to respond to quick releases.
Big companies are leaving it late at the moment to book their films to show, which makes planning and advertising significantly more difficult for independent venues.
“We just get pushed around a bit,” Brian said.
“All little cinemas have the same problems.
“And there’s only one way to solve these problems - by customers coming to see us.”
After raising concern on Facebook about the cinema’s attendance levels, Penistone locals shared views that the cinema should show more varied things, such as horror films.
Brian said: “If people are really genuine, then of course we’ll try other things.
“We’re hoping to show the new sequel to Halloween - Halloween Kills - at the end of October.”
The pandemic meant that many live performances had to be postponed, and are now coinciding with movie releases, but the team are keen to prioritise support for theatre groups and performers as much as they can after the challenges of the past 18 months.
“I would say around 80 per cent of our work goes on behind the scenes, and only 20 per cent of it is what people actually see,” he added.
“There really is a tremendous amount of planning which goes into everything.”