THE ELECTRIC Picture House Cinema in Wotton-under-Edge has enjoyed an increase in audiences compared to the same period last year, during its first three months under new management.

Despite a sunny summer and competition for audiences with the world cup, over April to June the community-owned cinema has enjoyed a 16.5 per cent rise in ticket sales compared to the same period in 2013.

The rise was particularly pronounced in May, a period when cinemas nationally saw a decrease in attendance year on year.

Gareth Negus, who was appointed managing director three months ago, said the summer was always a difficult period for independent cinemas.

“So we’re delighted with the level of support we’ve received from the local community,” he said.

Mr Negus has put a large part of the increase in sales down to the popularity of live theatre events on screen, including the encore screenings of the National Theatre’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The popularity of these live screenings has continued unabated, with the first screenings of NT Live’s Skylight and the Monty Python reunion shows selling out completely.

The cinema has decided to show additional performances from both shows, with the Pythons being shown on Friday 1 August at 7.30pm, and Skylight on Tuesday, August 12, at 7pm as part of a new strategy for the enterprise.

The cinema has been run by a team of volunteers for the past 11 years and at the helm had been Jeff and Janet Walshe who decided to retire in March.

Mr Negus previously spent six years as director of Curzon Cinema in Clevedon and had been working with the Wotton cinema as film booker and marketing consultant throughout the past year.

Joining him has been fellow manager Samantha Osborn, who was operations manager at Curzon and front of house manager at Bristol’s Watershed.

A new front of house team has been recruited and many current volunteers will be staying on to help build audiences by showing films more frequently, closer to release dates and over the full week.

Mr Negus added: “In order to secure a long-term future for the cinema, we had to set ourselves some ambitious targets.

“If we continue to bring more visitors into the cinema, then we’ll be showing films for many years to come.”

Other live screenings coming later in the year include the National Theatre’s new production of Medea, and the West End hit Billy Elliot.

The National’s now-classic production of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, is returning to cinemas for Hallowe’en.