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Mrs T gets on her soap box to bring you all the chit chat,news and comments concerning your local Picture house The Woolton.
Mrs T finds out which cinema really did inspire a Beatles song.  Read more on this story 
Mrs T debates the good old fashioned cinema intermission and lifts the lid on Hush-Hush ice cream intermissions. Read more on this story
 Is it time to freeze out unauthorised ice cream Intermissions ? Sitting on the 81 bus the other week on the way to Woolton village I overheard a conversation between two youngsters which went something like this. “What you doing later Adam?” asked one of the boys “I’m going to the flicks to see a film”  replied Adam, “Are ya going to the Woolton Picture house? asked his friend  ”Yes” said Adam “its boss there they have a proper interval half way through the film so you can go to the bog when the lights go up!”. Hm  well okay maybe not something high on my list of priorities for choosing the Woolton picture House in favour of the Odeon, although after downing a extra large cup of ice cold coke before the start of the main feature on my previous visit there, I did find the sudden and unexpected intermission a much welcomed break and the importance of the youngsters logic immediately struck a chord.. It also raises the question why is it no matter how long films are, most cinema audiences are expected to sit through the show from beginning to end without an Intermission break in sight. In fact if they are any longer when the next instalment of Avatar comes to an Odeon theatre near me I will most likely have to wear my surgical stockings as well as my 3d specs to enjoy the cinematic experience! So how is it when you do go to the Odeon, or for that matter other Cinema’s in and around Liverpool, you are expected to endure a derrière-aching long haul epic from start to finish without so much as an illuminated ice cream attendant to  help restore your circulation?  Older cinema patrons no doubt remember the days when having an intermission break was common practice, especially in epics such as, Gone with the Wind, The greatest story ever told, The Ten commandments etc, when it would have been a sacrilege to run the show without one. So surely there’s something amiss if the modern day multiplexes have seemingly overlooked a money making opportunity to captivate their audience, stop the film dead in its tracks and sell fridge loads of ice-cream to everyone, haven’t they ? Well if the truth be known quite a few cinema owners and patrons alike would probably be happy to see the return of the ice cream sale intermission if they were given the choice. The crux of the matter is that all UK cinemas or more to the point all rule abiding UK cinemas are no longer permitted to edit their own unofficial intermissions into the main feature film as they regulary did in the past. So why’s that then Mrs T? You might ask Good question I shall enlighten you. The policy to do away with the so called “unofficial intermission” has been in force now for several years, it is part and parcel of the contractual agreement between the cinema operator and the film distributor who provide the film to the cinema. The strict clamp down came about partly due to changing public trends in the 70’s & 80’s and mostly due to pressure on the film distributors by aggrieved executive film directors, who argued that their cinematic works of art were forever being ruined by DIY cinema intermissions. These illicit intermissions, put there to boost confectionery sales when the film did not have an official intermission were usually edited into the film by the chief projectionist on the say so of the cinema manager, without the consent or knowledge of the people who owned the film. Initially the instructions to do away with them proved virtually impossible to implement. The main stumbling block being that many cinemas’ still used the tower type film carrier equipment and at the time it could only accommodate around 135 minutes of film per spool. Longer films using this system therefore had to be split into two half’s with an Intermission mid way in order to lace up the second part of the film on the same single projector they only had. However with the advent of Digital projection, film platters and thinner 35mm film stock for the tower system, it allowed even the most archaic cinema equipment to run epic films for much longer without the need for a stop and consequently the “unofficial cinema intermission” became a thing of the past with the decision to have one or not, put firmly back in the hands of the film director.   So how come when other cinemas up and down the country are not allowed so much as a sniff of a unscheduled “ice cream intermission” during the main feature, It was often a safe bet to go along to the Woolton Picture House and you would find one? Could it be because the Woolton Picture House remained in a timeless bygone age were the rules don’t yet apply? Or was it because their equipment was so old they had to turn the projector off for ten minutes during the show to cool it down? Or how about the age old excuse… Because the projectionist had a dodgy back and the spool was too heavy for him to lift it unless he splits the film into two half’s. Well the answers much simpler than that,  Those responsible for providing these unofficial intermission breaks did so because they knew full well there was hardly a cat in hells chance of the film distributors finding out about it, and if they ever did get caught with their proverbial pants down during one of these illicit intermissions, then they [the ones breaking the rule] had a ready made list of intermission excuses pinned up on the projection room wall to get themselves off the hook. Okay well so what! you might say, good luck to anyone using their initiative to break the rules if it helps them sell a few more ice creams, all the profits go back into the upkeep of the cinema don’t they? And their subterfuge isn’t exactly going to hurt anyone, is it?   Wrong on both counts.  The rights and wrongs of the debate are not as clear cut as they may first appear. Now its not like Mrs T to chin wag! but just between you, me and these four walls it is understood the root cause of the division was down to one or two of the more dominant senior staff at Woolton who refuse to give up the ghost on unauthorised intermissions, as doing so meant a significant fall in their ice cream commission bonus, hence their regular transatlantic holidays would feel the pinch. However the more honest staff amongst them [those who wanted to abide by the rules] were finding themselves discriminated against and frozen out by the perpetrator’s intent on breaking the rules. Sources close to the cinema say that following complaints in 2006 button pusher chief projectionist Dave Parr  received two verbal warnings from the previous owner of the Woolton picture house David Wood who warned him in no uncertain terms to put a stop to the illicit practice. However it is understood shortly after the untimely death of the cinemas owner, new owners took charge and the same rule breakers seized the opportunity to reintroduce their illicit practice. Staff caught in the middle say it was no coincidence that 95% of the staff who have refused to go along with this clandestine scheme are no longer working at the cinema. Another staff member who wished to remain anonymous said “Its fair to say that there are one or two little hitlers within the building who like to have things all their own way and if you don’t fall in line, they [the perpetrators] have ways and means of making your position of employment at the cinema, both intolerable and untenable.   So there you have it. Next time you go to the Woolton Picture House and if the curtains do close abrutly half way through the main feature for a unscheduled unofficial intermission and little Adam off the 81 bus bolts passed you down the aisle heading for the nearest toilet,just as you put your hand in your pocket to buy another cornetto in the belief all of the profits are going back into the cinemas upkeep,Then spare a thought for the trustworthy staff at Woolton picture house who would if the scam continued most likely to be  getting intimidated by a small clique of money grabbing pocket liners accustomed to having things all their own corruptive way. Website comment. From a neutral perspective, Having an interval during the feature film when you are not allowed one, does not in itself appear to be the crime of the century. Nevertheless rules are rules and this particular rule could lead to a cinema being black listed by the film suppliers if they break it with dire consequences on the business. Senior staff at Woolton Picture House have a duty to lead by example in order to prevent their junior staff from being unwittingly educated and nurtured into breaking rules in return for extra sales commission.More disconcerting is hearing reports of fellow workers being bullied, intimidated and discriminated against by a small clique of senior staff for simply wanting to do an honest days work in an honest working environment. The new owners of the Woolton Picture House have a responsibility to make sure this doesnt happen during their tenure in order to safeguard the reputation of the cinema and to protect the positions of the honest minded people who join their crew. Update : the Woolton picturehouse has since updated their equiptment to digital,The contractual terms and conditions of all latest digital release film distributors require cinemas to screen their films without intermissions
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