MAXIME CINEMA'S - BLACKWOOD
Adam Cunards stylish Boutique Cinema in the Welsh valleys.
For almost thirty years the Maxime cinema that dominates Blackwood High Street has been more familiar to the younger generation of residents as the bingo hall. In more recent years the venue has slowly but surely suffered through visible neglect. While older generations fondly remember the Maxime as the highly popular cinema that entertained Blackwood residents for almost forty years before closing and becoming the towns bingo hall.
Very few people expected the bingo hall to return to duty as a viable and fully functional cinema, and then along came Mr Adam Cunard, the young entrepreneur and cinema exhibitor with a vision. As Managing Director of the Bognor based Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company Ltd, Adam is a unique modern day cinema operator. His flourishing company is best described as boutique in that Adam has focused on cinemas with a history, often these venues have been trading for many years as a cinema and until Adams intervention, and they had become tired, struggling to achieve the necessary audience that would make them a viable business.
Adams growing company acquired a number of cinemas that can be described as at risk, in towns such as Bognor, Clacton on Sea, Dorchester and Westgate on Sea.
These cinemas needed investment to reclaim their positions as cinema serving the community, Adam provided the necessary investment and then the crucial restoring, repairing and remodelling of the venues, allowing them to offer big screen entertainment at an affordable ticket price for comfortable seating with a varied programme offering a choice of mainstream film releases alongside selected art house films as well as the popular live theatre broadcasts. Adams business plan is sensible and logical and yet this self-imposed mission is foolishly overlooked by the major, larger cinema chains that dominate the industry in the UK.
Adam’s Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company has now arrived in Blackwood, applying Adams vision to the former Maxime Cinema which has been successfully converted to a dazzling and stylish new five screen high tech modern cinema complex. Once again cinema is on the High Street in Blackwood Town, entertaining the residents of the market town and pulling in cinemagoers from the surrounding valley towns as well as visitors from the nearby cities of Cardiff and Newport.
The latest addition to the Picturedrome estate of cinemas was put on the market following the decision of the owners, Top Ten Bingo to withdraw from operating a large number of bingo halls due to Government taxation changes that would not make the bingo operation viable. Adam and his team expressed an interest in the venue and successfully bid to purchase the venue. By now the venue had been struggling as a bingo club for a number of years, this prevented the essential maintenance and repairs a building of this age requires. While some minimal work had been done to maintain the building the façade was generally run down.
Internally some work had been carried out to maintain a functional bingo operation but areas that were not used and unlikely to be seen by the general public were in a very poor state of repair. Considerable water damage to plaster and features was evident throughout, requiring considerable costly repair and restoration work to correct.
Speaking with Adam, it became clear that his passion was to restore the cinema, retaining any art deco features while enhancing the facility with modern projection technology and creating multiple screens in the former stalls and balcony of the cinema.
During a visit to the cinema a few days after Adam had acquired the venue it became clear that Adam had quite a job in hand to return the former cinema for use with the appointed budget. Additionally on inspection it was clear that many of the decorative features that once graced the cinema were lost or removed during the 1970s conversion from cinema to bingo club, this was disappointing but Adam remained upbeat and enthusiastic and continued with his plans to restore the cinema with any of the original features that could be salvaged. Many cinema lovers naturally long for the return of the single screen large capacity cinema, while this might be a desirable dream it isn’t a viable business option nowadays, where a business must make a financial profit to enable it to function and serve the desired demographics of an area, Adam is realistic with his vision related to cinema exhibition.
Refreshingly Adam encourages his cinemas to form part of the community, providing modern, comfortable cinema exhibition with a choice of films screened in comfortable cinemas offering high tech seats found at premium Cineplex operations worldwide. Adam offers highly attractive cinema ticket prices throughout his boutique of cinema’s, the pricing policy is available daily and is highly popular with cinemagoers more used to the pricing structures implemented by the larger chain circuits.
Unsurprisingly the restoration and conversion of the Maxime Cinema took longer than planned and cost a little more than the original budget due to unforeseen expenses. When the cinema opened its doors on the 6th August 2014 local cinemagoers were overwhelmed by what had been achieved within the derelict and run down bingo hall that dominated the town’s main high street.
The £1.5 million refurbishment of this familiar building has returned the Maxime back to community service for a new younger generation of families to enjoy. The Maxime is a gem on the valleys doorstep of the former industrial market town.