Riviera Cinema

There was an open day today at the old cinema in Teignmouth that sadly closed its doors back in 2000. The auditorium is still intact, repainted in a deep red and glorious gold. Still grand on a small scale, though the seats are past it and the floor stripped back to its bare bones. It felt strange to be standing again in a place where I spent many wet afternoons in my childhood and balmy evenings in my teeage years.

I saw Sleeping Beauty there with one of the scariest ever of Disney’s villains. I saw Bambi and can still remember the distraught sobs of another child at that awful, awful moment. I saw a much hyped-up Superman. The Return of the Jedi. Back to the Future. The Fisher King. It was always an occasion. Poppets and Revels, maybe an icecream. None of this over-priced, over-sized popcorn of the multi-screen complexes.  

So we filled in a questionnaire – what would we like to see happen with the cinema?

I’d like to see a community cinema. We should be able to make it work as a town of around 17000 residents. We can’t compete with the big cinemas of Exeter, our local city, so we should aim to offer a different experience. For starters the Riviera is right in the town centre. Convenient. Cheaper. No bus or train fares. No petrol costs. It is full of soul, not corporate branding. It should be a little cheaper to get a ticket. There’s not a lot of diposable income in Teignmouth but enough to fund a fairly regular night out at the pics.

Other towns have made it work. There’s the Flavel Arts Centre in Dartmouth which combines film, theatre, library, art and music etc. The Hebden Bridge Picture House. Bude Community Cinema. These are just a few I have heard about but there must be loads of others who have strived to make a local cinema work.

Teignmouth already has a film society to try and fill the gap left by the millenium closure of the Riviera. It is held once a month at the local secondary school – but wouldn’t it be fantastic to relocate to the old cinema and build on the enthusiasm there is for film in this small seaside town?

We could have a mix of mainstream films, art house films, foreign language, cult, and classic films. We could have special elevenses mornings, tea and cake afternoons, kids clubs, young people nights, themed nights… We may be small but we are a creative town. Surely we can make this happen?

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2 thoughts on “Riviera Cinema

  1. Ideally i’d love to see the cinema in use again, Sophie, but – thought I’m generally an optimist – I find it hard to see how it could ever be a going concern. The only practical solution I can imagine is to – and I hate to think of this – rip out everything that’s there now and completely redesign the interior. It would probably have to be a combined pub/cafe/cinema/performance space it’s to have any hope of surviving commercially. I used to go to the cinema fairly often in the old days, but more often than not there’d be just half a dozen people in there – sometimes fewer! I see no reason to think it would be any more successful nowadays. What with home cinema being so readily available now. Yes, I love the experience of watching a movie in company with other people. I don’t even have a telly, so I’d appreciate that opportunity especially. But, to be honest, there’s not an awful lot of us left. People like the comfort of watching a movie at home in their comfy sofas and with the kettle and snacks to hand. We’d have to offer a very special experience to make this work, and I don’t know what that could be. Any ideas?!

    • Hi David. I do actualy think there’s been a revival in cinema going. I have three teenageers who think nothing of going to Exeter to watch a film with a group of friends. They’d definitely go local as it would be so much easier and cheaper. I agree it would need to offer something else too – certain films and times offered to certain age groups etc. If other towns can make it work I believe we can. British film has never been so good. And it’s a cheap evening out compared to going bowling or for a meal. You could be right about the interior, heartbreaking as it is to see it go, but I still believe a cinema would work!

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