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High Wycombe cinema celebrates 25 years this weekend
ONCE known at the High Wycombe Six Empire is getting ready to celebrate its 25th year anniversary. The cinema launched in 1987 with a screening of Top Gun, which will once again be shown at the cinema during this celebratory weekend.
The cinema in Cressex was one of the first of its kind and had more than one million admissions in its first year. Paul Damms, the current general manager, has been there since 2007. A mad film fan, he started with 10 years experience and also a degree in film and media.
The 37-year-old said: "The reason why I joined Empire is because it was a relatively new company with a fresh approach to cinema."
And the reputation preceded the cinema. He said: "Obviously people called it The Wycombe Six. We now have eight screens so it doesn't really apply. People talked about it a lot, even when I didn't work here.
"Working at Uxbridge people would talk about Wycombe. Their customers would say how much they enjoyed it."
Paul said he thinks the cinema attracts an older audience and a more family orientated audience, than Cineworld, which is based in the centre of High Wycombe.
He said having another cinema in the town provides a big challenge but added: "We do kind of pull quite different audiences. There is room for both cinemas. We all enjoy that competitive edge it creates. I do and I know my team does. "
General Manager of Empire High Wycombe from back in 1987, Geoff Greaves said the timing of the opening was fundamental to the way the cinema grew over time.
He said it rebelled against the Americanised versions up the road.
Paul said: "Times have changed in regards to cinema. It used to be all about movies, obviously blockbusters are still around, but people want a lot more out of the cinema these days."
A new addition is live screenings from the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, aiming to make it more inclusive.
And he said since he has been there the Harry Potter films have made the cinema the most busy and that The Inbetweeners was an unexpected success.
On Saturday they are celebrating by showing Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone at 12pm, Mamma Mia at 3.30pm (both of which were hugely successful at the cinema), Dirty Dancing at 6pm and Top Gun at 8.30pm, which were both screened in 1987. These films will be at a reduced price of £3.95. For more details go to www.empirecinemas.co.uk
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