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Thurso cinema one of the few open in the UK


By Jean Gunn

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Merlin cinema, Thurso, proving popular with people keen to get back out. Picture: Merlin Cinemas
Merlin cinema, Thurso, proving popular with people keen to get back out. Picture: Merlin Cinemas

Thurso's Merlin cinema is one of only a few movie venues in the UK open for business at the moment.

Bristol-based company director Craig May confirmed that earlier in the month they were one of around just 12 that were open. Most of the cinemas that are welcoming customers at present appear to be located in Scotland.

Mr May said: "We have had a really good response in Thurso – people are enjoying being back out. We are really lucky we have a strong team there."

The local cinema reopened at the end of August after being closed for five months due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Although many cinemas reopened when restrictions eased across the UK, a great number closed again as the film industry continued to face uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr May explained that, with so many cinemas closed, many release dates for new movies had been set back so they decided to screen a few older films.

One of the screens at the Merlin cinema in Thurso. Picture: Merlin Cinemas
One of the screens at the Merlin cinema in Thurso. Picture: Merlin Cinemas

"We did really well with Star Wars and we have Jurassic Park on now," Mr May said. "If there are any new releases we are bringing them in too. On the Thursday and Friday we had the National Theatre's War Horse in the event cinema and we had two sell-out shows so we have added more.

"On the whole we seem to be doing better – it is giving people an excuse to enjoy a night out."

Among the older films soon to be screened are Dirty Dancing and Back to Future. Mr May, who has the task of choosing the films, said: "I am still looking into some other options."

Although the attendance numbers were good he pointed out that they were in no means comparable with previous figures. The two-metre rule means that they can not accommodate their usual numbers.

He continued: "It is encouraging. We were pleased with the figures for the last week or two.

"I think having the bar and restaurant helps. Even on the weeks the restaurant had to shut the team really got behind it – we had a relatively strong business on the takeaway side."

Some new events and films are due to be released in December which will tie in with the local cinema's plans for a family festive theme throughout the month for both adults and children.

With Merlin Cinemas' main base being in Cornwall, Mr May commented that the Caithness venue could not be any further away. He added: "That is why it is important to have a strong team at Thurso."



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