Exclusive:I think this is the best cinema in the UK says developer behind Blackpool's new Backlot Cinema and Diner

Cinema boasts state-of-the-art techology
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The future of movie-going has landed in Blackpool with the launch of its new multi-million pound Backlot Cinema boasting the  most immersive IMAX screen in the country.

A first look inside reveals why the developers behind the investment next to the Houndshill Shopping Centre believe film fans will be flocking to the venue, and indeed tickets for the opening day on Friday (March 22) were almost sold out.

Owner John Sullivan and manager Fabio Vidotti in the Backlot DinerOwner John Sullivan and manager Fabio Vidotti in the Backlot Diner
Owner John Sullivan and manager Fabio Vidotti in the Backlot Diner
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From its diner to hang out zone, nine screens, and the £1m IMAX projector sitting in its own locked room, the focus has been on creating an experience to exceed expectations.

The seats are sculpted and angled so viewing a two-hour Hollywood hit never ends in a stiff back, and a state-of-the art heating and cooling system recycles the air every 30 seconds.

Backlot Cinema founder and owner John Sullivan says the aim has been to transform cinema so people are still willing to leave home to view the latest blockbuster.

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He said: “Twenty to 30 years on from the multiplex cinema, people’s in-house experience has moved on, so if you don’t improve the out-of-house experience, you are not going to attract people out of their homes or compete with other leisure.

The Backlot CinemaThe Backlot Cinema
The Backlot Cinema

“This project has been seven years in the making in collaboration with an amazing council. I believe Blackpool deserves the best and I think this is the best cinema in the UK.

“I don’t think anywhere will come close to it, and I have built over 200 multiplexes around the world.”

First up as you step through the door is the Backlot Diner with capacity for 100 guests and which is expected to draw in shoppers and visitors to the Winter Gardens as well as movie-goers.

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Designer Chris Morris has created a cross between the traditional American diner and a Blackpool seaside eaterie with roller-skate lighting and Waltzer seating.

He said: “We decided to go for a diner which is really fun with a sense of the seaside and the carnival, so the booths are like a classic Waltzer ride to bring a funfair feel and the design of the back rests is inspired by deck chairs.”

Head chef Chloe Bradley is in charge of the kitchens and is among 60 staff taken on to run the diner and cinema.A Blackpool resident, she is brimming with enthusiasm about what the cinema will bring to the town.

Chloe BradleyChloe Bradley
Chloe Bradley

She said: “We’re looking at some really interesting things for the menu like our ice-cream roll sandwich and savoury popcorn with paprika. But people will also be able to get burger and chips and take it into the film with them.

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“All my chefs are local and we’ve all really moulded together and are really excited about the launch of the cinema.”

The Backlot opens its doors with a line-up of new blockbuster releases: Dune: Part Two, Ghostbusters and Godzilla X Kong. There are also screenings of films such as Barbie, Oppenheimer and Wonka, that were released during the last 10 months when the town has been without a multi-screen cinema.

Facilities which the Backlot Cinema hopes will upgrade the experience include

  • A hangout zone where sodas, snacks and sweet things are on sale. It is a place where people can relax before heading into their film
  • A screen which people can hire with its own catering area
  • The ability to screen live broadcasts such as sports or concerts
  • An immersive experience in the IMAX including events such as showing footage from the Hubble telescope as well as Hollywood blockbusters
  • The Backlot is equipped with cutting-edge technology to host live gaming tournaments and corporate conferences
  • There will also be regular events, such as comedy nights, film festivals, diner and movie packages, and local community meet ups

The £21m cost includes  includes £5m of funding from the government’s Covid-19 Getting Building Fund, with the balance coming from council borrowing, plus a further £6m investment in the fit-out of the building including the IMAX screen.

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Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “We are delighted to see the brand-new, state-of-the-art cinematic experience open for all to enjoy, and have no doubt it will be popular with people of all ages, from both near and far.

“The Backlot Cinema and Diner hosts one of the largest IMAX screens in the North West, showcasing blockbuster films through immersive experiences – an offer that is currently unique across Lancashire and great for our town.”

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