BY SOPHIE HAZAN
CINEMA saviour Charles Morris has transformed the fortunes of a once-struggling picture house.
In little more than 12 months the film tsar says he has put the Cottage Road cinema in Far Headingley, Leeds, back on track and making a profit.
The sugar on the popcorn came on Saturday when a showing of new James Bond film Casino Royale drew a full house.
In fact the independent one-screen is turning-over more than any one of the five other cinemas owned by Mr Morris.
He told the YEP: “We are quite happy with it. It’s doing particularly well really as it’s been a bad year for cinemas generally.”
And on last weekend’s success he added: “It’s wonderful when that happens. There’s such a buzz about it.”
The Cottage Road cinema was saved from closure at the eleventh hour last August when Mr Morris clinched a takeover bid from previous owner Chris Ure. Mr Morris secured a nine-year lease, and today the new cinema boss is reaping the rewards after applying a keen plan of action.
Most notably the cinema recently regained its alcohol licence so people can once again order ale with their Maltesers.
Weekly world film days, pensioner matinees and children’s movie afternoons are proving to be firm favourites with its audience.
A varied programme of movies and competitive ticket prices are continuing to strengthen customer loyalty.
The 468-capacity cinema directs its programme at an “intelligent” audience, Mr Morris explained.
He said: “We are a bit more selective when it comes to film at the Cottage Road.
“We can score with almost any film but there are films that do well that mainstream movie houses wouldn’t touch.”
Dousing rumours there might be plans afoot to develop the site, Mr Morris added: “We like the foyer with the panelled walls. It’s got a nice feel and I am not going to split it up to make two or three screens.
“There’s quite a genteel atmosphere at the Cottage Road. It’s got a nice ambiance. And there are no plans to change that.”
Headingley lost its other independent cinema The Lounge suddenly last year when owner Mr Ure closed it without warning saying it had been running at a loss.
Mr Morris runs cinemas in Keighley and Skipton, as well as ones in Lancaster and Windermere in the Lake District.
For more information on films and screening times log on to www.nm-cinemas.co.uk or call Leeds 275 1606.