Dorchester is the county town of Dorset and with a population of around 20,000 it now boasts TWO cinemas. When we first moved here six years ago I was delighted to live within walking distance of a cinema and I’ve been a regular visitor to the Plaza ever since.
Built in the 1930s the Plaza has been updated to provide an all-digital, four screen, 3D and live satelite enabled modern cinema. Some new releases come to Dorchester very quickly but I ran out of luck one year waiting for Atonement to arrive and had to slip along to Weymouth to see the film. That said, with tickets charged at £2.50 during the week and £3.50 on Friday and Saturday nights, going to the Plaza is a brilliant and cheap night out.
However, we have an interloper on the Dorchester cinema scene with the Odeon three-screen cinema newly opened in Brewery Square. The development is on the site of the former Eldridge Pope brewery and will have several new restaurants, shops and housing when it’s completed. In the meantime we have Carluccio’s and the Odeon to keep us guessing as to what the final facilities will be like. But with another cinema, therein lies a dilemma.
From the outside, aesthetically, the Odeon isn’t a patch on the Plaza although inside it is a different story. There’s a beautiful curved wall that invites you into a large and welcoming foyer with windows overlooking the square. According to the developer, the Odeon is not new to Dorchester but an old, established business returning to its roots. As the story goes, Dorchester was one of the first towns in the country to have a cinema which opened in 1911.
One might be pleased about the possibility of seeing more films if only the ticket prices at the Odeon were not so high. At £8.50 a seat, my loyalty remains with the Plaza. And as a regular visitor to the Plaza, it would be disloyal to see films elsewhere, wouldn’t it? However when I checked the Odeon website for screenings this week (for the sake of this post), I have to admit that I was tempted to visit. Argo is showing at the Odeon with not a mention of it on the listings at the Plaza. Owing to one of the stories in Four Buses (which gives an account of a double-decker bus ride I took through Iran in November 1981), I feel obliged head straight for the Odeon and find out more about the story of the American hostages, most of whom where held in Iran and only released in January 1981.
Now I’m torn between my loyalty to the Plaza and my desire to see Argo. What would you do, if you were me?