A GLOBAL cinema chain will “breathe new life” into Basildon despite concerns over its finances as the industry struggles to recover from the Covid pandemic, a councillor has vowed.

Vue Cinemas has confirmed it will take over the currently empty cinema in East Square, after councillors agreed a deal which includes a £3 million “sweetener” to get it up and running.

Once works are completed later this year, the cinema will open with ten screens - the largest of which will seat 300 people.

However, in a report by cinemas expert Entertainment Solution Services in September, there were fears Vue could “increase its risk of running out of cash” as the number of customers could be lower than expected amid industry struggles.

Echo: Hopeful - Craig Rimmer is 'aware' of the challenges facing the cinema industry but says Vue has 'come out the other end'.Hopeful - Craig Rimmer is 'aware' of the challenges facing the cinema industry but says Vue has 'come out the other end'. (Image: Carlotta Cardana/Le Monde)

But Craig Rimmer, Basildon councillor responsible for tourism and economic stimulus, is adamant Vue is the right firm to take the cinema on, after previous operator Empire went into administration last July.

He said: “I’m fully aware of the difficulties Vue has faced. They’ve been to hell and back but come out the other end.

“In the past, people have described the town centre as ‘dead’. This deal will breathe new life into it. The public wants to have a town centre which is thriving again.

“We’re dealing with a cinema operator which has gone through hard times, and it’s not going to be wonderful times ahead. But if it does turn out well, we have a turnover clause in our lease which means the council will profit.”

Echo: Empty - the East Square cinema as it currently stands.Empty - the East Square cinema as it currently stands. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)

Mr Rimmer says the success of recent blockbusters like Barbie, Oppenheimer, Dune 2 and Wonka “instil confidence” in the deal.

He added: “We’re seeing the green shoots of cinemas recovering from the pandemic and screenwriters’ strikes. It absolutely instils confidence that it will be a success.”

Toby Bradon, general manager for Vue UK and Ireland, said: “We’re very happy to learn of the council’s decision, and to be bringing the big screen experience to Basildon.

“We look forward to welcoming our first Basildon customers later this year to enjoy the best in big screen content in luxury seating, state-of-the-art laser projection and immersive Dolby ATMOS sound, delivering the ultimate in seat, screen and sound experience.”