Leeds passes the screen test for Everyman cinemas

CEO Andrew Myers at the Everyman Cinema, Leeds
CEO Andrew Myers at the Everyman Cinema, Leeds
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EVERYMAN Media said the appetite for quality in Leeds convinced the group to choose the city for its first cinema in the North of England.

Andrew Myers, chief executive, told the Yorkshire Post that the London company has invested more than £4.5m in its new venue at Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

The cinema has 500 seats, three state-of-the-art digital screens, a private screening lounge and restaurant and bar.

Mr Myers said: “We are very selective in the areas that we want to go into. For us, it has to be an area that fits our brand.

“Leeds likes quality products, there’s an appetite for quality. For us, the logical place to open was Leeds.”

The former Leeds University student said Trinity Leeds developer Land Securities approached Everyman in 2008 with an opportunity to sign up for the £350m scheme.

“They wanted to bring something different to the Leeds community, something that hasn’t been done before,” he added.

“At that time, we had already begun to change the way cinema was being delivered at our London sites and they saw our approach to the way we view cinema, which is totally different from anyone else in the industry.”

He said Everyman creates a “two-tone” experience for customers; they don’t necessarily have to enjoy the film to enjoy their evening.

“We want people to love the film, but actually some films you go and watch and you don’t like.

“We cannot control whether you like it or not. We select quality films... but once you make those decisions people’s tastes are different.”

Everyman controls the experience, from the moment customers walk in to the cinema to the quality of food and drink they are served, said Mr Myers. The cinema chain does not serve food in large containers or “anything that rustles”, he added. “When people are in here they are treated properly.”

Mr Myers said Everyman is leading the rebirth of urban cinemas following the rise of the out-of-town multiplex over the last two decades.

He said his cinemas “sit at the heart of the community” and deliver film in an old-fashioned way but with the latest digital technology. The company tries to focus on quality films, he said, adding that Everyman Leeds will open on April 26 with Iron Man III, The Look of Love and The Place Beyond the Pines. Tickets will cost £11.

At a wider level, the film industry is facing a challenge from illegal downloading via the internet. The regulator Ofcom estimates that 44m films were downloaded between August-October last year.

Mr Myers said: “I look at how we live as individuals. People like going out and people love being social. Everybody can watch football games for nothing on the TV, but football attendances are bigger than they have ever been before.

“Just because something’s available in your house or to get for free does not mean people are going to do that.

“People want to watch films with other people, they want to experience their laughter, their sadness.

“If we go forward 50 or 100 years I still believe people will be fundamentally social.

“There will always be people who look for shortcuts to download films, but I can’t change that.

“What I can do is provide environment for the first 150 people who want to come and watch a film on a Saturday night, we are their destination of choice.

“We don’t have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seats. What we are looking for is to cater for those people who actually do want to come out, be sociable and watch that film.

“There are big challenges for the cinema industry, but I believe there is a huge role for exhibition going forward, whether it be us or our friends at Cineworld, the Odeon or Vue.”

Admissions have been static at around 165m for the past seven years, he added. Everyman’s gross box office receipts were £7.2m last year.