An independent cinema has launched a new scheme to encourage young people to enjoy films.

The Forum Cinema in Hexham town centre is now offering a free membership for 16 – 25 year olds which includes £5 tickets and 10% off popcorn from the local café.

The Forum is one of 10 cinemas across the country working on an initiative with the British Film Industry to get young people back in front of the silver screen.

Chris Kelly, marketing assistant and projectionist at the Forum Cinema, said: “It’s been really good so far. We launched it (the membership) last Wednesday and we’ve had quite a lot of sign-ups. As well as £5 tickets and 10 per cent off popcorn there’s going to be selection of screenings which will be shown as events.

“Our membership cards, which are made of recycled plastic are due to arrive in the coming days.

“One of the reasons that the scheme exists is that a lot of young people have moved out of cities and in with their families during the pandemic, so there’s been a change of demographic in Hexham.

“In an independent cinema like ours, there’s going to be more contact with people in the 16 to 25 age group, which all goes hand in hand with the re-opening of cinemas.

“One of the big things we hope is that it makes people feel included in what we do. Community is very important for the Forum – we’re owned by the Community Partnership so a lot of what we do goes back into the community.”

So far, there’s been a positive reaction and Chris says that there have been a lot of sign-ups. And the cinema has fared well in general since re-opening on May 21.

The single screen has been full several times – although capacity is reduced from the usual 198 to around 70 or 80 people.

Chris said: “We’ve been really busy since we re-opened. The Oscars happening while we were closed is actually a good thing because everybody’s heard of the films and the hype was real!

“Nomadland, which won Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs has been really popular. Also, having Peter Rabbit on during half-term helped!”

This project is supported by The BFI, The National Lottery, Into Film and Film Hub North. The BFI Film Audience Network is supported by National Lottery funding.