Belper cinema’s ‘silver’ screenings attract loyal audience

Ashley Franklin introduces the film
Ashley Franklin introduces the film

Film-lovers who attend a Belper cinema which runs special Thursday morning screenings for older people say they wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Ritz cinema, on King Street, has been running its ‘Silver Screen’ showings for ten years, during which time they have witnessed a significant increase in the number of films that are made with an older audience in mind.

Customers get drinks and treats beforehand.

Customers get drinks and treats beforehand.

The films are all carefully selected by owner Amanda Mundin and local photographer Ashley Franklin, who also introduces the film to the eager audience.

Amanda said: “We will have been open ten years in November and Silver Screen has been going on as long as we have - from day one.

“Ashley had just finished at Radio Derby and was doing film reviews for Saga Radio at the time.

“He had been interested in doing something for the over-50s for a while so we decided to start doing some special screenings.

The crowd get ready for the feature presentation.

The crowd get ready for the feature presentation.

“We look through the films that are coming up and pick out ones we think they might like, but we always like to put on a range of things not just ones specifically marketed to seniors.

“So we had Hail Caesar recently and we have The Jungle Book coming up, but we also have all the Oscar films like Spotlight and had Star Wars when it came out.

“It’s not just exclusively for older people though - we also have younger people coming in and mothers with babies.

The building itself dates from 1882 and was first made into a cinema in the 1930s.

Celia and Kevin Doar and Gill and Colin Hancock.

Celia and Kevin Doar and Gill and Colin Hancock.

It was then closed in 1992 before Amanda reopened it as the Ritz in 2006.

Her family now run three cinemas - The Ritz in Belper, The Regal in Melton Mowbray and The Savoy in Stockport - with two of her sons taking the reins at the Regal and the Savoy.

“There has definitely been an increase in cinema-going for the over-45s over the last few years,” says Amanda.

“There are figures from the BFI which show that, and the fact that films like Philomena, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The King’s Speech and The Queen exist are testament to that.”

Cath and Andy Pearson

Cath and Andy Pearson

The customers we spoke to certainly valued what Amanda and Ashley provide.

Kevin Doar, 67, from West Hallam, said: “We love it. My wife and I go with another couple, making a party of four.

“We go pretty much every Thursday unless we are away and have been doing that for about six or seven years.

“You get to know people from all over so as well as the film it is a social thing as well - even if the film isn’t that good it is a good experience - the people are so friendly.

“We’ve also been on trips to Amanda’s cinema in Melton Mowbray and hope to go to her other one as well.

“We have coffee while we’re watching and it’s often somebody’s birthday so we get some cake as well.”

Louise Broughton and Joy Revell.

Louise Broughton and Joy Revell.

In terms of last week’s offering, Eddie the Eagle, Kevin said it was ‘much better than I thought it would be’.

Gill Hancock, from Stanley Common, is also full of praise for ‘Silver Screen’.

“We love the atmosphere and the friendliness of the people,” she says.

“We have got to know people as we queue up and Amanda and all the staff are very welcoming to us.

“We get to see different films than we would do normally - some are really good and some not so good.

“Some of the bigger cinemas have started to do a similar thing, but you wouldn’t get the same atmosphere at a multiplex.”

Gill said Eddie the Eagle was ‘entertaining and light’ but that the previous week’s film, Room, was excellent.

She added: “Amanda picks a good range of films for us and Ashley’s introductions tell us a bit about the film before it starts which is really helpful.”

Silver Screen takes place every Thursday morning at the Ritz on King Street, Belper, from 10am.

For more information, visit www.ritz-belper.co.uk or call 01773 822224.

Customers can enjoy a brew during the film.

Customers can enjoy a brew during the film.

Terry Cope, Alan Butler, David Curl, Rita Curl and Gill Tolley.

Terry Cope, Alan Butler, David Curl, Rita Curl and Gill Tolley.