Cinema Fans Flock To Mareel

by Alastair Hamilton -

Shetland Arts has revealed that attendances at Mareel Cinema have now reached over 100,000 since the first cinema screening on 31 August 2012.

The two Mareel cinemas, one seating 161 and the other 37, have been more than twice as busy as originally predicted. The business plan for the venue's first year envisaged 39,000 attendances.

The lucky one hundred thousandth ticket holder was selected to win a special prize: a year's free Gold Card subscription for unlimited film at Mareel. The winner was announced at Home Made, a screening of short films made by Shetlanders shown at Mareel as part of Screenplay 2013, the annual film festival curated by Observer and BBC Radio 5 film critic Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams.

Shetland Arts" Director Gwilym Gibbons said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to the cinema-going public of Shetland. The level of attendance is extraordinary when we consider the number of visits that is per head of the population. We're delighted that the level of cinema attendance has been sustained beyond the “honeymoon period” of the first few months of opening last year, with Despicable Me 2 (which opened on 28 June this year) being our second busiest week of cinema since we opened.”

It's not hard to see why the cinemas have such tremendous appeal. The seating is very comfortable and much more steeply raked than in the modern "shoebox" multiplexes so often found elsewhere, so heads don't get in the way. The projection and sound systems are the most up-to-date available. Customers can enjoy their film with a drink from the bar or buy popcorn, nachos and ice-cream at prices that don't provoke gasps of horror. Many mainstream films open at the same time as in major cinemas on the UK mainland but the programme also includes a range of more unusual international or offbeat offerings, which have also proved very popular. The cinema was also able to show the National Theatre's production of The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, and more events of that kind will be presented in the future.