First glimpse of how Blackpool's new Backlot Cinema will look like inside

A multi-million pound cinema complex being built in Blackpool is set to boost town centre trade by creating an 'all day' experience at the Houndshill Shopping Centre for the first time.

E-sports will be a major part of the cinema offer while new brands are already preparing to move into the existing shopping centre, owned by the council, where the £21m extension is due to open next year.

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There is currently only one vacant unit in the Houndshilll apart from the empty former Debenhams store.

Artist's impression of the exterior of the Backlot Cinema

Houndshill manager Debbs Lancelot hopes the investment in the Backlot Cinema will help persuade a national retailer to take over the three floor former Debenhams site.

She said: "It is going to regenerate this area by bringing additional footfall and enhancing night time activity.

"We are hoping people will come to do their shopping and then visit the cinema to enjoy a film thus generating a full day experience at the Houndshill."

Bosses from IMAX signed a deal on Friday July 29 confirming the 10.8 metres high and 19.8 metres wide immersive screen will be the centrepiece of the cinema.

Artist's impression of the inside of one of the screens

Restaurants within the development will be operated as the Backlot Diner after Backlot Cinema founder John Sullivan confirmed his £6m investment in the scheme.

Creation of an E-Sports hub within the cinema will include an annual event bringing around 5,000 competitors to Blackpool, while a mini film festival will showcase local talent.

A new Wilko store which is being built on the ground floor of the extension will be directly accessible from the Houndshill.

Other new additions coming in now include Muffin Break, a bakery and coffee shop and a children's play area due to open above River Island.

An artist's impression of the Backlot Diner

A permanent toy shop is also due to take over the former Disney store, which currently has a temporary tenant, while hopes remain strong of attracting a new tenant to the former Debenhams store.

Ms Lancelot added: "The council has been talking to a national retailer to come in there for a number of months, and those talks are ongoing.

"This investment (into the cinema complex) will help to bring someone into that Debenhams unit."

The cinema building taking shape
An artist's impression of the inside of the cinema
An artist's impression of one of the screens