Ten years ago Amanda Mundin and Neil Roberts opened the doors of The Ritz Cinema in Belper for the first time.
It was the culmination of months of hard graft, transforming the disused upper part of the town’s bingo hall, which had been a picture house in its glory days.
The business partners had no idea how the venture would pan out but they were optimistic and, more importantly, prepared to work hard to make a go of it.
Since then they have barely had the time to look back, as it has been a phenomenal success with audience figures continually growing and queues up the street a frequent sight as customers wait to book seats. They have even found their way on to one of the Guardian newspaper’s lists of top cinemas.
Amanda and her family have since taken on another two cinemas, in Melton Mowbray and Stockport, and were dubbed ‘the family who save cinemas’ by the BBC earlier this year.
“Neil and I both worked in the film industry but we wanted to do something more. We thought at first we might be able to run a cinema part time but were told that wouldn’t work when we went on a course to investigate the idea more,” explained Amanda.
“We knew then that if we were going to do it we would have to commit to it properly. It seems funny to think about it now, but we had worked out that if we got at least 20 people in to each screening it would be okay.”
She laughs when she recalls the most madcap screening of all – Mamma Mia. We just hadn’t expected such a turnout it was unbelievable. We have learnt a lot since then and are much more prepared for the big movies.
“It has been a brilliant ten years and we have enjoyed it all. I am now looking forward to the next ten.”
To celebrate the anniversary The Ritz is going to be treating cinemagoers with a few giveaways and surprises during the month and the Ritz Awards will be staged on November 26 and will include a charity screening of A United Kingdom with proceeds going to UNICEF.
On November 20 there will be a special double bill of film and theatre with a screening of Brief Encounter and a short play by George Gunby – We’ll Call You – about two actresses waiting to audition for Noel Coward’s Still Life on which the film was based. The play is a Derwent Theatre Production and will feature Chelsea Anne Richter and Morgan Richter.
On November 12 the Belper Wind Band will be performing ahead of a screening of the Queen of Katwe and on November 27 the curator of the British Film Institute Steven Foxon will introduce Britain on Film: Railways and host a post screening Q&A.
There will also be a French Film Festival spread across three Thursdays during the month with screenings of Monsieur Chocolat (the story of the first black artist on the French stage) on November 10, Cezanne Et Moi on November 17 and Caprice starring Doris Day and Richard Harris on November 24.
For full details of films and events during the month go to http://www.ritz-belper.co.uk