Marie Mitchell joined the management team at Beverley’s family-run Parkway Cinema in April. When a vacancy arose a few weeks ago, guess who applied for and got the job? Yes, husband Mark! Just Beverley went to find out more about this couple who really did meet over the popcorn in a cinema!
Marie has been working in cinemas ever since she was at university when she took a part-time job to help fund her studies. She tried managerial jobs in different industries after graduation, but always ended up back in a cinema. For a young woman who wants a social life, the unsociable hours (working late nights, weekends and Bank Holidays, for example) aren’t the most attractive, but Marie loves the feel-good reward of giving cinema-goers a great experience and, sometimes, even gets to see the films which are showing! She is a big Disney fan and loves romantic comedies but dislikes anything with violence - unlike husband Mark, who relishes the Marvel and DC superhero films and science fiction.
She said: “Getting family time can be challenging - Mark and I have two boys - but there are up to 30 staff now working here at Parkway under General Manager Cliff Baillie and the range of film and events, including live shows, which we put on means we attract all sections of the community. Mark and I share management responsibilities with Trevor Sturman, who has been here, like Cliff, since the cinema opened. You can do so much here which is impossible at a multiplex! Parkway is a real community resource and we just love it.”
Mark’s background in cinema is as a projectionist, a job which is now defunct. He began his career in Wakefield before moving to Cineworld Sheffield which features the amazing 4DX auditorium. From there, he moved to Cineworld in Hull as Chief Projectionist, which is where he met Marie. Now that films are available in digital formats and all that is needed is a laptop, a memory stick and the ability to ‘drag and drop’, Mark has moved into management, which is what has brought him to Beverley Parkway. He said: “I do miss the days of 35mm films which came on several large spools, which had to be shown in the right order, with adverts and trailers put in manually. There would be three dots appear on the top right-hand-corner of the film as the spool was coming to an end which is when you had to ensure the next spool was ready, or else there would be a break in projection and an unhappy audience. The spools would get worn with each showing and sometimes break, which meant the film had to be spliced together - it usually happened when you were least expecting it!
"It was easier in those days to have an intermission, too, with ice-cream sellers appearing in the auditorium at exactly the right time, as you would just stop as a spool came to an end! It seems strange now that we just see one film when we go to the cinema, but not so long ago there would be a short film in support of the main feature or even a double bill. Nowadays, audiences have gotten used to just seeing the main event, backed up with forth-coming attractions and advertising. It’s the distributors which govern what adverts and future films are shown - in fact, it’s the distributors who govern what films are seen and how often we show them. It can sometimes take 2 weeks to get a new release as that’s part of their strategic plan to get the maximum number of bums on seats. But as an independent, we can get art-house films to attract smaller audiences which the multiplexes don’t show.
“The old projector which is on show in the Parkway is a good reminder of where film came from and that some directors do still use film to make a movie even though it is mastered digitally for release. For example, Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ were filmed on 70mm film, a wide high-resolution film gauge. Filming both of those films in that medium gave them the ‘feel’ of the era being evoked, but movie-goers today tend to demand the clarity of film and soundtrack which filming and processing in digital provides. Laser projection is coming in and beyond that there could be 8K resolution (Parkway can show ultra-high resolution 4K films) and even holographic film.”
One of Mark and Marie’s favourite tools is the camera view of each of the auditoria, which means they can check on the audience at frequent intervals to ensure they are safe, have turned their phones off and are keeping their feet off the seats! They can also ensure the theatres are clear and ready for cleaning up after each showing, collecting and recycling as much rubbish as they possibly can. Cinemas are open every day of the year bar Christmas Day, with Christmas Eve their busiest day of the year! Last year, Parkway showed ‘Polar Express 3D’ in the run-up to Christmas which was so popular that they are repeating the exercise this year; at the time of writing, the screening for Christmas Eve had already sold out but watch for extra showings.
It can be a challenge for a cinema with 6 screens, only 2 of which can show 3D films, to accommodate everything audiences and distributors demand! December is particularly challenging as there are so many new films due out - ‘Star Wars - The Last Jedi’; ‘Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle’; ‘Ferdinand’; ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ and ‘Wonder’ to name just 5 of 60! See page 6 for the list of new releases being shown at Parkway and check out the website every week for cinema listings, events and shows.
Marie is very excited that the café bar now sells different flavoured hot chocolate as well as a variety of teas, Costa coffee and alcoholic beverages which can all be taken into the auditoria. There is also ice-cream, soft drinks, snacks and, most important of all, popcorn. Without the popcorn, there would be no Mark and Marie. Can you guess which of them likes sweet and which likes salted though? Remember to ask them next time you are there!
Beverley Parkway Cinema is located at Flemingate, telephone: 01482 968090. Check out the website for daily listings, forthcoming attractions and for bookings: http://beverley.parkwaycinemas.co.uk/