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First look at revamped Hollywood Cinema

PUBLISHED: 19:42 22 November 2017

Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Trevor Wicks.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Trevor Wicks. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

As a building it has gone through as many changes as the hundreds of showgirls and stars who have passed through its busy back stage.

Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

And the latest one is moving the Hollywood movie house in Great Yarmouth into another new era - albeit with a nod to the past.

Cinema director Trevor Wicks has invested a “substantial” five figure sum in sprucing up the historic gem, renewing almost all the 800 seats in the five-theatre complex and adding what is thought to be one of the biggest screens in East Anglia in its cinema one.

At 70ft wide and as big as a double decker bus it aims to bring a true big screen cinema experience to loyal audiences who will also benefit from more leg room.

Along with the changes there is also a partial re-brand and name change to the Hollywood Royalty Cinema, tipping its hat to its history and long-standing contribution to the resort in different roles.

Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Trevor Wicks.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Trevor Wicks. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Wicks said he had a huge affection for the town and its many buildings devoted to entertainment which were architectural gems and among the best in the UK.

The improvements at the Hollywood had been phased in over some months to ensure it could be kept open and include bringing back the upstairs snack kiosk.

And at the revamp’s heart was a vote of confidence in the resort, he said.

MORE: Plans submitted to transform Hollywood Cinema on Great Yarmouth seafront

With other schemes coming forward like the Waterways refurbishment helping to attract more people, Mr Wicks said things were looking up in the town.

Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Hollywood Royalty Cinema at Great Yarmouth. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There was evidence, he said, of a longer season with Regent Road, the resort’s main tourism thoroughfare, staying open all year, lifted by the canopy of lights.

“Trying to revamp a building like this is not easy. It is huge,” he said.

“I have a big attachment to Great Yarmouth, particularly the buildings. When you are in this industry you do get an emotional attachment. We need to cherish these buildings and they have seen a lot of action, particular with the elements.

“It is not a total re-brand because we are keeping the Hollywood name but people like the idea of it being the Royalty too because they remember it and they remember the live shows.”

Although impressive and much altered the building is not listed.

A colourful history

Originally the building was the Royal Aquarium, conceived as a single storey attraction set in gardens in 1883.

However as early as 1896 it became a 2,000 seat theatre hosting a string of famous names.

Among those to tread the boards were Lily Langtry and Ellen Terry with Ernest Shackleton and Oscar Wilde lecturing there.

Cinema was shown in 1914, but became full-time in the 1930s, with live shows staged during the summer right until the 1980s when Michael Barrymore was sold out every night for the whole season.

An adjoining repertory “little” theatre carried on until the 1970s with its own entrance and kiosk, now cinema two.

The building has been variously called The Royalty and The Three-in-One. The star dressing room is now the office.

The re-launch will be officially celebrated on November 30 with a reception and mystery celebrity guest.

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