Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Alpha Papa: The Cinema

Cine-files: Hollywood Cinema, Norwich

This month Alan Partridge makes his long-awaited move to the big screen with the world premiere taking place in Partridge's home city of Norwich, following an internet campaign.The movie joins the long list of films which have been partially filmed in Norfolk, including Die Another Day, World War Z, Jack the Giant Slayer and Full Metal Jacket. Following the campaign there will be a lunchtime premiere in Norwich before Alan jumps on a chopper for an evening premiere in London to keep the studio bosses happy. Here, I review its venue, the Hollywood Cinema.

Hollywood Cinema is located in Anglia Square, [note: NOTLeicester Square]  within convenient walking distance of charity shops, 99p Stores and second hand electronics dealers. On the outskirts of the city centre, Anglia Square is made mostly of the solid, grey architecture typical of the 1960s. The area was originally home to a Saxon settlement and a series of defensive ditches, now Anglia Square car park.

The cinema is located in one of the many large, nondescript buildings in the area although it is notable for its positioning, looming over the square. It dates back to the 1970s and is neutrally painted and partially glass fronted. The interior could do with a facelift, and the four screens are a fraction of the size of Norwich's two giant multiplexes, but this cinema has an archaic charm that is hard to find in 20 screened behemoths.

The clientele of the cinema are primarily Nor-folk from ages eight to ninety.  Norwich's “value” cinema, it undercuts its bigger, more modern local rivals at the box office which accounts for its continued survival.

Step aside Delia, the Alan Partridge movie premier has been described by Trevor Wicks, the owner of Hollywood Cinemas, as “the biggest event at the Hollywood and probably the biggest event there's ever been in the city for many years.” Rather than humourlessly shunning Partridge, the people of Norwich have embraced him (take note, Kazakhstan). Is Hollywood Cinema the best cinema in Norwich? No, but it is a local landmark, and one worthy of Partridge and Norwich's self-deprecating humour.