Thursday 29 June 2017

'Sad day for Irish cinema' - Outcry from stars as Savoy bids to reduce seats

Rick O'Shea at The Savoy Cinema, O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

Gavin White

PROPOSALS to reduce the size of the legendary screen one in Dublin’s Savoy Cinema have been described as a “sad day for Irish cinema”.

A spokesperson for the O’Connell Street cinema confirmed to the Herald that plans had been drawn up to “reduce the capacity of the theatre from 800 to 680 people” to accommodate two smaller-sized screens.

RTE DJ Rick O’Shea said it would be a “terrible shame” if the auditorium, which once held 2,500 people, was cut in size.

“I remember going to see my first James Bond movie there in 1985 and to see these plans is a sad day for Irish cinema,” he said.

Rick O'Shea at The Savoy Cinema, O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Rick O'Shea at The Savoy Cinema, O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

“I’ve seen Superman and Silence of the Lambs there as well as introducing premieres over the years. The building has so much history.

“But I understand exactly where they are coming from. You’ve got Cineworld around the corner with a car park underneath so it’s much easier for them to attract people.”

A number of Hollywood stars have graced red carpets at the city centre cineplex over the years, including Daniel Day Lewis, Will Ferrell and Russell Crowe.

Former Love/Hate actress Lynn Rafferty was also dismayed at the plans. “The biggest reason we went to the Savoy was for that screen so this just takes away from the cinema,” she said.

“I have been to see countless movies in screen one – it’s a stunning screen to watch films on and there’s always a really nice old school feeling about it that adds to the experience.

“I get that the Savoy is a business in a competitive world but it would be really sad to see Ireland’s first widescreen go.”

A spokesperson for the Savoy said: “The plan is now with the board of directors and there is no date or timeline on the development.”

Dave Leahy, of Warrior Films, described the popular screen as “the best in the country”.

“Working in the film industry, I have been lucky enough to attend a number of premieres,  whether it be with the Irish Film Festival or as a punter, and it was by far the best,” he said.

“I saw a screening with Al Pacino in there amongst many others and it was just iconic. So it’s just disappointing.”

Kevin Flynn, a film writer living in Rathfarnham, said the plans were a “sign of the times”.

“I was only looking at a book the other day and saw a picture of the original screen and thought to myself that it was spectacular, absolutely unbelievable looking,” he added.

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