Traditional film a thing of the past at Cleethorpes' Parkway as cinema goes all-digital
THE final curtain has been drawn on traditional cinematic technology in Cleethorpes.
As of yesterday, all nine screens at the Kings Road venue are using digital technology rather than the 115-year-old technology of 35mm projector film – signalling the end of an era in the Parkway chain's history.
Owner Gerald Parkes said: "This is a day in history for Cleethorpes and a day in history for the whole industry."
The digital switch-over follows more than £800,000 investment into the cinema as Mr Parkes works to keep up with the industry and modernise his cinemas, which are also based in Louth and Barnsley.
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But while the change signals exciting times ahead for the cinema by training staff to keep up with the changing technology, it is bittersweet for Mr Parke's whose love affair with film is a story worthy of the big screen itself.
He said: "It is a very emotional day for me. Since I started working as a film projectionist in the 1960s I have always been able to keep up with the technology, now for the first time, technology seems beyond me, it's quite moving really.
"These old films are going to become part of our heritage as the mechanical essence of film has gone, but the theatrical experience of cinema remains. In the 1970s and 80s when everyone said cinema was dying because of television, I knew they were wrong."
The first public film using 35mm film was created in 1896 and shown to the public two years later, and while technology in other areas has rapidly advanced, cinematic technology has largely stayed the same.
The only major developments are the speed from 16 to 24 frames per second – creating the first motion picture – and the addition of sound.
Gerald firmly believes in the unique power of cinema and although the technology has changed, the joy of watching a great picture with an audience, remains the same.
Gerald continued: "I have always loved films and to be honest, I don't think the audience have ever cared how the film gets onto the big screen as long as they enjoy the story and the characters. Without a strong story line and likeable characters it doesn't matter. All the best films are character-driven."
And to ensure 35mm films don't fall into the equivalent of the directors cut archives, never to be seen again, Gerald has kept back two of the projectors and will occasionally show cinema classics to film enthusiasts on special showings.
He said: "We have kept back two 35mm films to put on showings in the future, so those who, like me, want to relive the experience of watching film on a film-strip are able to do so. I think it's going to be quite popular among enthusiasts."
And, even in a time of economic downturn, Gerald remains positive about the future of cinema, adding: "Cinema is not recession-proof, but it is resilient; an affordable indulgence. It's the experience which has made cinema successful, even in the age of improved portable technology when films can be watched anywhere."
It's not just Cleethorpes Parkway that is undergoing modernisation; Parkway Cinema, Louth, is nearing the completion of a large refurbishment programme, including new seating, entrance hall and online booking system – see your Grimsby Telegraph for the full story next week.