Ten years ago, a group of Shropshire film enthusiasts took a giant step into the unknown, now they are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Old Market Hall Cinema in Shrewsbury.
They set out to transform one of the county’s most iconic listed buildings into a luxury cinema – incurring the wrath of placard-waving protesters in the process.
But last night champagne corks popped to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Old Market Hall Cinema in Shrewsbury, which has become one of the biggest success stories of the county’s entertainment scene. Year on year, attendances at the 16th-century building in The Square have grown. And, after a record-breaking 2013, it is now closing in on its 500,000th moviegoer.
A select group of supporters were invited to last night’s party, which included a screening of the very first movie shown at the venue – the Maggie Smith drama My House In Umbria.
Shropshire councillor Claire Wild told the audience: “To say that the Old Market Hall has gone from strength to strength is something of an understatement. In its first year it sold over 19,000 tickets – a big increase on the numbers recorded the previous year at the old film theatre in the Music Hall. Last year it sold 55,000 tickets, and within the next few months it will have sold half a million tickets.”
The building has become more than just a cinema – its popular café bar sells more than 250 cups of tea and coffee a day, and it plays host to regular exhibitions, and guest speakers.
The most popular film shown at the OMH has been Oscar-winning drama The King’s Speech, which earned more than £50,000 at the box office. Other top choices have included Judi Dench films The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Ladies In Lavender, as well as last year’s hit musical Les Miserables.
The OMH, which seats 81, hosted a black tie premiere of the Charles Darwin story, Creation, in September 2009.