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Functions: Conference Center
Previous Names: Riviera Centre
In Torquay, Devon, the Riviera Centre (now the Riviera International Conference Centre) opened in 1987. In addition to its conferencing and events facilities, it has a swimming pool, leisure centre, health and fitness suite and café.
In September 1991, faced with the council considering a potentially serious cut to its annual grant, the decision was made to seek to increase revenue by adding ‘big screen’ entertainment to the Centre’s offerings - especially as, at that time, the only commercial cinemas in the Torbay area were the Torbay Picture House, at Paignton, and, closer to home, the Odeon (later Central Cinema), in Torquay (see separate Cinema Treasures entries).
£45,000 was to be spent on the conversion, including the installation of projection equipment and a screen that could be flown to allow for other events, with the intention of creating a 1,100-seat cinema space available for use up to 100 days per year. The Centre’s General Manager, Tim Husbands, said the intention was not to compete with the commercial cinemas, but to put on “big-name films for short runs and special screenings”.
In the event, the conversion cost £47,000. The Flicks Cinema opened on Sunday 27th October 1991 with “Regarding Henry”, starring Harrison Ford and Annette Bening. The screen was 30ft by 16ft, but there were ‘only’ 800 seats.
It is not known when the Flicks Cinema closed. It was listed in the 1998 British Film Institute Film & TV Handbook, but not in the 2000 edition. However, the Apollo multiplex (now Vue, see separate Cinema Treasures entry) had opened in August 1999, in Paignton, and that might well have led to the cessation of these screenings.
The Riviera International Conference Centre continues in business. However, it had to be taken over by Torbay Council in May 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to protect it from going into administration. It is said that this should ‘futureproof’ this flagship building.
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