A bright future for the big screen is being predicted by the man behind the independent cinema chain spearheading Grimsby’s town centre redevelopment.
Parkway Entertainment Group operates its flagship venue in neighbouring Cleethorpes, with the team now planning the latest addition for Freshney Place’s leisure overhaul. Work begins in earnest after consent was granted for the multi-million pound overhaul last week.
Richard Parkes, director, believes the widening of the appeal will work when it comes to revitalising the heart of the borough the company calls home, drawing on the enduring success of the silver screen.
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“Parkway is delighted that the plans to reinvigorate Freshney Place continue to move ahead. It’s all about bringing unused retail space back to life and bringing people into the town centre,” he said.
“Internet shopping has changed how people buy things, but it hasn’t changed who we are – people want to gather together, meet friends, spend time with their family. It used to be mainly driven by retail, but now it’s also about leisure. Anything that gives people a good enough reason to stop poking at a phone and go out and do something is a good idea.
A still from the movie Top Gun Maverick, with Tom Cruise in the lead role. (Image: Handout) “Cinema has supposedly been dead many, many times. TV was going to kill it. So was VHS, then satellite TV, then Netflix, and most recently Covid. It simply isn’t true. Avatar Two came out just before Christmas, and it’s already taken more than $2 billion worldwide, and has become one of top ten biggest films ever.
“Anybody who saw Top Gun Maverick on a big screen knows that the cinema experience is not just alive and well, but, with ever better screens and sound, I think it’s probably better than it’s ever been.”
Last year saw 117.3 million cinema admissions according to the UK Cinema Association, and while it is a fraction of the 1.6 billion seen in the post-war boom, it eclipsed much of the Seventies, all of the Eighties and half of the Nineties box office numbers. Pre-pandemic the figure was 176 million, showing the path to recovery still has distance to run.
Richard said he cannot wait for it to get started on the new addition, which will join the resort and further venues in Beverley, Louth and Barnsley. North East Lincolnshire Council is progressing the work, including the planning of timescales to initially strip out vacant units and demolish the former BHS building. The market will continue to operate from its current base until the new market has been built.
Pictured last July when Parkway Cinema Group was revealed as the anchor tenant, are, second left, Philip Jackson, and second right Richard Parkes, with Parkway team members, from left, Lucy Foad, Tori Gaunt, Andrew Cooper, Elise Gallagher and Vanessa Bradshaw. (Image: grimsby Live) Richard added: “Our new Grimsby cinema will be very different to our Cleethorpes offer. There is more than one type and style of restaurant, more than just one type of pub – cinemas are the same. A town centre cinema will have a different feel and style to a big seafront cinema, even if they’re offering the same sorts of films, it’ll be a different experience.”
Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Philip Jackson, is delighted that Richard and his Parkway team will be a central part of the scheme. Since the proposal was first unveiled less than two years ago the local authority has bought the shopping centre out of liquidation, with receivers having been appointed almost a year to the day when the application was approved.
“Freshney Place remains a central venue for shopping and retail, and as we develop our plans, we want to attract a variety of other offers to give people a whole host of reasons to visit, both during the day and into the evenings,” he said. “Parkway are local, they are committed, and they want to bring about a positive change within our town centre and that is just what we are looking for.”
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