When award-winning film director Jon S Baird officially opened the cinema in his hometown of Peterhead last year, he hailed the “buzz” surrounding the new venture.
But starting up a picture house in the middle of a global health pandemic was never destined to be problem-free.
About eight weeks after the venue rolled out the red carpet to Mr Baird in October, the Arc Cinema was forced to dim the lights again when the second wave of coronavirus began to spiral out of control.
Now, with cases of infection at the required low level across the north-east and most of the country entering Level 2 tomorrow, the projectors at Arc Cinema will whir into life once more.
A grand start with a ‘steady stream of fantastic new releases’
Despite the closure lasting more than double the length of the time it was open late last year, bosses are hopeful that the “buzz” around the entertainment complex is still there.
Brian Gilligan, director of Arc Cinema’s parent company Melcorpo, said: “When we first opened doors, there was a lot of excitement in Peterhead and there was never really a question of choosing not to open.
“We were able to play some Christmas classics and the local pantomime from the year before, so actually the cinema was quite busy and we were selling out screen after screen, because people were so excited to have this brand new facility there.
“The timing wasn’t great for us and it’s very unfortunate that we had to close so soon after we opened in October, but I think the worst is behind us now.
“People have been so supportive from the very start and it’s brilliant to finally be able to reopen and give our customers the best cinema experience once again.
“Everybody is really excited and we’re looking forward to hitting it off tomorrow with Peter Rabbit 2 and a steady stream of fantastic new releases that are to come out in the next few months.”
Giving one-of-a-kind cinema experience
The venue boasts five screens and plans to show the latest blockbuster and independent films, as well as local productions and offerings from film festivals.
A range of special measures have also been introduced to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff members.
Local audiences will have the opportunity to see hotly anticipated new releases including Nomadland, which has won four Baftas and three Academy Awards, Mortal Kombat and Disney’s new feature Raya and the Last Dragon.
Peterhead Arc Cinema manager, Laura Daramola, explained how watching films on any streaming service at home can never compare with the thrilling experience of going to the cinema.
She said: “The Arc as a brand is all about the love of film and the local community.
“We are that extra bit of support – a place where you can come in, get that bit of normality back and speak to a member of staff about how your day was and whether you’ve enjoyed your film, or give us feedback on what we can improve.
“And everybody gets treated the same – whether you’re 12 years old, or you’re 50, you’ll still get the same warm welcome and the same fresh popcorn.
“This is something you just can’t get from Netflix – it’s the customer service, the surrounding sound and the thrill of being involved in the film sitting all happy with your popcorn.
“Giving that experience to someone is the most enjoyable thing and we can’t wait to welcome our customers.”
Reopening the ‘heart of the community’
Staff at the cinema have also been impatiently waiting to welcome eager film fans back through the doors tomorrow.
Customer assistants and supervisors have spent the last few weeks brushing up on their skills and getting the venue ready and as safe as possible for the long-anticipated return of their customers.
Lenny Wood, who works as a customer assistant at the Arc Cinema, said: “The best thing about working in a cinema is seeing the smile on people’s faces and the sparkle in their eyes.
“We’re trying to make it as safe as possible for all of our customers and it will just be nice to see people coming through the doors again.”
Shannon Wright, Arc Cinema supervisor, added: “Peterhead was very quiet for a very long time so it’s nice to be able to have the cinema open again for people of all ages to enjoy.
“It’s like reopening the heart of the community and it’s just fantastic to be part of it – it really feels like it’s pulling the community back together to a better place.”
Screenings, all of which are wheelchair-accessible, are bookable now on the Arc Cinema website.