Residents in Buckinghamshire have mixed feelings about a new cinema chain arriving in their town this week, with some branding it 'good news' and others concerned that unless ticket prices are low, it may struggle to survive.

Omniplex Cinema Group, an Ireland-based company with 38 pre-existing locations, announced yesterday (December 4) that it had purchased the former Empire Cinema venue on Crest Road in High Wycombe and would open one of its first sites in Britain at the venue on Sunday, December 10.

The news came as something of a shock to some High Wycombe locals, with Empire only ceasing its operations in the town a few days ago after a period of continued trading following the UK-based chain's collapse into administration earlier this year. 

Although Paul John Anderson, director of the group, said Omniplex's commitment to providing "high quality and successful" cinemas across Ireland over the past 30 years had stood them in good stead to "venture into new territories", some would-be cinemagoers in High Wycombe were sceptical of the chain's projected prosperity in the town.

Adam Harvey looked on the bright side, writing: "Good news. (I) hope they can weather the box office doldrums while the studios figure out their post-pandemic/strike release schedules."

David Knight questioned his view, however, suggesting that competition between cinema chains had more to do with the quality of viewer experience than wider industry issues.

He wrote: "It's about providing a nice environment for people to watch a film in, which the Everyman in Marlow does, (as well as) the Odeon Luxe in Maidenhead. The last few times I've been to Marlow and Maidenhead, the screens have been full."

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Pete Taylor added that he doubted the new venue would be able to compete with the Cineworld cinema in the Eden Shopping Centre, writing: "People only go to Empire because it's cheaper and easier to park (at) than Cineworld. If (Omniplex) is more expensive, I can't see it doing any better (than Empire did)."

Joe Snook sounded a similar tune, commenting on the news: "We don't want another expensive cinema. Put a Vue cinema in so that it's cheap."

Despite the concern, unlike other chains including Cineworld, Omniplex is not shouldering significant debt and Mr Anderson was resolutely optimistic about the expansion when speaking to Screen Daily this week.

He said: "We have come out of the Covid period, I wouldn't say unharmed, but in a better position than most operators. Two of those elements are that we have no external debt and own the freehold for the majority of our properties."

The rebranded Omniplex Cinema on Crest Way in High Wycombe will open on Sunday, December 10.

While ticket prices are not yet available to view online, adult tickets for new releases at the chain's Ireland venues hover around €10, the equivalent of £8.57.