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Regent Cinema co-owner Donna Favel behind the counter.

By Mick Jensen

Films are back on the big screen at Ashburton’s Regent Cinema.

The cinema was closed during lockdown, but reopened under Alert Level 2 for business last week.

Owner David Favel said there was a shortened programme of films being offered and more time between sessions, but people could once again get their cinema fix.

Maximum numbers of 100 were allowed in the cinema, although, for now, he was looking to keep that at 50.

Customers received a short briefing when they arrived, but most had a good understanding of what needed to happen at the venue.

Mr Favel said the cinema had operated under level 2 for two days previously. Customers needed to sign in, sanitiser was provided and each screening was effectively in its own bubble.

He said there had been no cinema revenue for seven weeks, but he had been happy with the way the government had supported businesses.

“It’s been a necessary hardship for the last few weeks and now we’re looking for numbers and revenue to start picking up again.”

Mr Favel said there would be no blockbusters released until July, but smaller movies like I Still Believe and For Sama would help fill the gap.

Anticipated films like Peter Rabbit and the next James Bond movie would not be on the big screen until November.

“I’m hoping there is still going to be the usual school holidays in July because that’s our harvest and a busy couple of weeks for us.”

Mr Favel encouraged people to “renew their love of movies” and to return to watch them at the Regent.