For those that don't know there are 110 miles of land north of Inverness with plenty to see and do and right at the very top of Britain is Thurso, next stop, the Orkneys (which I can see from my kitchen window).
In 1987 I managed to get the Moving Picture Show to come to Thurso on a fortnightly basis and it also visited the nearby town of Wick. MPS was Britains only 35mm mobile cinema and was showing film all new. I continued to work on getting a permanent cinema here and in 1992 I wrote to a new company called Thor Leisure who were about to open a six lane bowling alley in the town which had been gifted to Thurso by the United States Navy when they departed the county in 1992. By 1998 Thor confirmed their intention to build a new cinema initially planning a single screen but moving quickly to 2 screens. However in my ongoing research, by the time the new cinema opened in October 2000, I had already identified that in the passing of time Thurso was suitable for Multiplex.
Our cinema which was named the "All Star Factory" was doomed to become an All Star Failure but that didn't mean cinema wasn't viable in Thurso. There are a pile of reasons why the failure occurred but none of them have anything to do with cinema viability. Anyway it was obvious from the onset that the cinema was going to fail and it was only a matter of time.
I made good use of that time keeping up with the cinema industry, reviewing Thurso's potential and planning for what would be a cinema fit for the catchment it serves.
My original proposal in 1992 was for 2 screens of 250 and 100 seats but we got 156 and 88! - Too small! As I said, by the time the cinema opened we were already a suitable location for multiplex. I have said for many years that Had CAC twin the old Picture House as they had planned in 1979, Thurso would already have had five screens by 2000.
In 2009 the cruch came and the cinema was closed by order of the bank. I spoke to 12 businesses trying to find someone to take it on, there were other organisations doing the same and in this last week finally the light has appeared in the projection box.
In 2001 I wrote a report on the cinema identifying what could be done to make it work and reach out to it's fullest and most inclusive audience.
On Friday evening (15th June 2012) a man who has been in the cinema industry for 20 years working with a major circuit, and his collegue (50 years in the business), were in Thurso to put their plans for the re-opening of the All Star Factory, how delighted was I when everything he said had already been said in my 2001, 2009 and 2010 reports on the future of Thurso cinema? At last the moment when my fellow locals realised that I hadn't made it up.
And of the plans for our cinema, well, opening in August and digital by December, introducing new alternative content while maintaining full mainstream movies all new on the screen, community involvement with education and film festivals and in the near future 2 or 3 more screens to maximise the full potential of reaching the widest and most inclusive audience. This plan is everything Cinema For Thurso has been talking about for 11 years and if it goes to plan we will have an opening for amateur films to be shown in our cinema regularly.
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