When did The Picture House first open?
Although our official centenary is 2016 it didn’t officially open until 1920 due to the local Magistrate refusing it a license because he owned the existing cinema in Uckfield, Foresters Hall. My father Roy Markwick bought the cinema in 1964 and it has stayed in the family ever since. My wife Tansy now runs the restaurant and my (now grown up) children often help during busy periods so it is a true family business.
What sort of films do you show and what dictates this?
We try to show a wide range of general release films however we do know our audience so will choose accordingly. A period film or a film with Dame Judy Dench or Helen Mirren will sell better than the latest sci fi or horror for example.
It’s official! Uckfield has ‘The Best Independent Cinema in Europe’
Up against stiff competition from around the UK and Europe The Picture House Cinema and Restaurant won ‘Best Independent Cinema in Europe’ at a recent Event Cinema Association Conference and Awards 2015.
We are delighted with this award. It couldn’t come at a better time. So much work has gone into our refurbishment over the last 18months. This is now nearing completion, our fantastic new foyer was open in time for the release of the new Bond film ‘Spectre’ and there a just a few finishing touches left to complete which will be finished just in time for our Centenary next year. Plus the addition of the Restaurant last December really compliments the cinema goers evening out .
The Event Cinema Association supports and promotes Event Cinema and represents those involved in the industry from content producers, equipment and technology providers and designers to exhibitors.
The Picture House Cinema and Restaurant has been an exhibitor and keen supporter of Event Cinema and have been screening events from around the world since 2010. 25% of our content is Event Cinema or Arts on Screen as we refer to it, this compares to 3% nationally. We now have a huge number of events from Opera, Ballet and Theatre to exhibitions and music events and much more. From companies such at The Royal Opera House and The National Theatre to The Bolshoi. Many of these events a screened LIVE from around the world. It enables a new audience to access an event they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience at a fraction of the price. This current week is hugely successful in terms of Event Cinema or ‘Arts on Screen’ as we refer to it, with Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet screened live from the National Theatre. This has been so popular that we already have four recorded encores scheduled and almost sold out.
What else do you offer since finishing the refurbishment?
We now have a large bar serving, speciality coffees, beer and wine with seating areas. Our new cinema seats are wonderfully comfortable and have cup holders, plus the sound is now superb.
Arts on Screen events:
Monet to Matisse: Painting the Modern Garden 12th April
National Theatre Live ‘As You Like it’ 25th February
What prompted you to buy the restaurant and is it proving successful?
My wife and I used to own a restaurant in Uckfield called Markwicks in the 90’s and we had a great trade from the cinema providing pre film dining. When the restaurant opposite the cinema came up for sale last year it just seemed an obvious thing to do especially as my wife is a chef.
What do you offer other than a cinema?
With our refurbishment including all 3 screens with new seating and sound system, our fantastic new foyer with bar and seating plus the restaurant we can provide a full night out. We are running many special events that cross over the cinema and restaurant. Our VE Night screening of ‘A Royal Night Out’ followed by a VE Night meal and dance with The Charleston Jive Squad was a great success as was our ‘Shaken Not Stirred’ Casino night at the restaurant to celebrate the release of Spectre.
Are you offering any specials on the run up to Xmas?
We are offering Christmas meals at the restaurant with Thursday nights being party night with a free disco until 12am.
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