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VIDEO: Inside the Imax - the Daily Echo takes a last look
1:44pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in Latest
IT was little over a decade ago that the Imax cinema finally opened its doors to fanfare and excitement, offering cutting-edge 3D films.
But now, just weeks before the builders move in to begin work on its demolition, what was hoped would be a major attraction for Bournemouth lies dark, dirty and derelict.
As the hated Waterfront building enters its death throes - 13 years after the first venues there opened for business - we took our cameras inside to record some final images before it disappears forever.
Entering the foyer, where excited families would once buy their tickets, popcorn and drinks, there is a ghostly atmosphere.
The branding is still there, directing people to the ‘Imax experience’, as is a cash machine and a list of ice cream prices, but ceiling tiles and lights hang from above. The scene is almost like something out of a disaster movie, like the place has been rapidly deserted, never to be occupied again.
Everything is dirty – floors, walls, doors – every single surface.
It’s all a far cry from the shiny cinema that opened in 2002, two and a half years later than planned.
Upon entering the auditorium, now lit by a single temporary light, you can imagine excited children bounding inside, taking their seats ready to enjoy a 3D blockbuster on the huge screen.
Now the seats are gone and all that is left is the concrete base where they once were, covered in inch-thick grime.
The giant screen has gone too, with just a few tatters left at the top where it once hung.
On the floor I found a few old tickets from 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Somehow, a ticket for Santa 3D from Thursday, December 23, 2004, was lying on the dust-covered floor where a seat would have been fixed into place.
Perhaps an over-excited child dropped it during the screening. It must have escaped the notice of the cleaners, given that the cinema closed the following year.
At the start of November work will begin to strip out the internal fixtures and fittings, before the physical dismantling of the building begins in the New Year.
By April, the site should be moving into the landscaping phase ahead of finding a new lease of life as an outdoor event space next summer.
Roger Ball, service director for technical services at the council, said: “By next summer Bournemouth will have an exciting new outdoor events space on the seafront.
“Finally, the Imax building – voted by the public as England’s most hated building – will come down and the sea views will be restored.
“The new Waterfront events space will open to the public with a schedule of events including a mix of music, theatre, arts, dance and sports.
“The site has been under-utilised for such a long time and so we are looking forward to providing activities that residents and visitors alike will appreciate and enjoy.”
It’s an irony that, 10 years after the Imax opened, 3D films are an everyday occurrence in run-of-the-mill cinemas in Bournemouth and Poole.
Maybe it was ahead of its time, but either way the Imax has died a slow, grimy death.
Read the history of the Imax, watch a film about its beginnings and learn about what's going to take its place at bournemouthecho.co.uk/imax