When the owner of The Palace Cinema, Jeremy Powell, wanted to upgrade his dream picture house from 35mm to digital, asset finance was the best way to make it happen.
Jeremy Powell, the owner of The Palace Cinema in Malton, North Yorkshire, first fell in love with cinema while helping a school friend run the Winscale Film Club. Around the same time he saw ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’. The combination of those two things fed the dream of owning his own ‘picture house’, an ambition he would one day achieve.
After a near miss in his late 20s while pursuing an engineering career in TV and radio, Jeremy spotted The Palace Cinema in 2002 while working on an outside broadcast. It had all the basic requirements: a screen, a projector and some seats. But it was looking careworn. Still, Powell took a deep breath and put his money where his dream was. “I thought I could mend it,” he says. “I also thought I understood business, but now I realise I didn’t”.
His idyllic vision of second runs and classic oldies was not working. He admits to being naive about film booking and acknowledges that it took a while before he realized that running a successful independent cinema is about booking films that pay, not the ones that you, the cinema owner, think the public should want to see.
But those early struggles were soon forgotten thanks to a visit from the local licensing police officer who turned out to be a great supporter of local business owners. He took one look around and asked: “Do you think you could fit a bar in here?” The idea stacked up and soon after, Powell’s fortunes took an upward turn.
A free NEC 800 (formerly the IS8) digital projector arrived via the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network initiative, shortly followed by a conversion to twin screens.
A second NEC projector, and an upgrade from 35mm to digital projection – funded with asset finance from Medialease, improved matters further.“[Seeking out] asset finance was done out of necessity”, admits Powell who was introduced to Medialease by Arts Alliance Media.
“Simon Ball at Medialease understood what the business was about and so could present the right [business] case. They worked hard for their, and our, money, and ensured that the projects went along as smoothly as possible and because of Medialease’s relationship with the supplier, the whole project went very smoothly and all obstacles were overcome”.
Powell was also impressed when Medialease was asked to quote on another project. “Although Simon was unable to help out on that particular occasion he made sure that he suggested someone else that could.”
That passion for the deal is indicative of the Medialease approach, as managing director Paul Robson explains. “As soon as we took the call from Jeremy I wanted to help them,” he says. “On a business level I am a firm believer in the importance of bringing local cinemas into the digital domain as it enables what is a micro businesses to offer other creative services to local consumers and to industry. I was also keen on a personal level as I am passionate about old school cinemas surviving and not least in Malton, a lovely market town which I have known all my life as my father was born and bred there.”
What started out as a pipe dream is now a reality, with Powell running his own picture house. And, in a small way, Medialease has helped to fulfill that dream.
If you want to find out how asset finance from Medialease could help your independent cinema upgrade to DCi compliant digital projection – or any other presentation facility for that matter – please get in touch.