Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hollywood Invaded. and Town Loved It!

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hollywood Invaded. and Town Loved It!

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVE ROBSON @Daverobson_gaz

IT was the day Hollywood came to Redcar.

Ten years ago yesterday, Redcar's Regent Cinema hosted a glittering Teesside premiere of the blockbuster movie it featured in - Atonement.

Starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, the motion picture of Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel was partially shot in the town in summer 2006. And director Joe Wright was among the VIP guests as Redcar rolled out the red carpet for its own special showing on September 5, 2007.

The British premiere was held a few days earlier in London, with Knightley and McAvoy both attending.

But the director was adamant Redcar should also have its own taste of tinseltown, so a premiere was arranged.

And it was a truly special night, recalls Regent boss Neil Bates.

He said: "I know there had been talk of possibly having the premiere at the racecourse, but Joe himself wanted it at The Regent.

"His parents used to run a small picture house in Islington, so I guess he identified with us.

"When he found this 1930s cinema next to the beach he wanted to film on, he knew he'd found the right place!" Neil admits he was nervous on premiere day but there was so much going on, he didn't have time to panic.

He said: "I was up quite early to get my hair cut and make sure my suit was ready. Joe arrived about 11am but I barely had time to speak to him, except to hand him a letter from a Dunkirk war veteran.

"I was quite nervous - and I sat very near the projector in case anything went wrong.

"But everything went well and I was as proud as punch."

Without Atonement, Neil says it's doubtful The Regent would still be around.

He said: "We're doing fine now but in 2006, we were really in the doldrums and on the verge of packing it all in.

"Then Atonement arrived and gave us the massive boost we needed.

"We still get the occasional visitor asking 'is this where Atonement was filmed'? "In fact, I'd say that as a one-off event, it was probably the most important thing to ever happen to the town." Hundreds of local people took part in the summer 2006 filming of the 1940s Dunkirk epic. …

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