A cinema worker is aiming to watch his 6,000th film as he celebrates 20 years in the movie business.
Among the highlights for Chris Haskins, 61, who works at as a host at the Odeon at Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre in Wrexham were dancing in the aisles to Abba hits and dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Yoda from Star Wars.
According to Chris, the blockbuster hits in 1997 when he first started were Titanic, Men in Black and The Full Monty.
Chris joined the Odeon after working for the former Marcher Sound radio station on their community action desk.
He said: “Cinema has really changed over the past 20 years. We have gone from 35mm film to digital projection and Dolby surround sound systems. And of course we have seen the rebirth of 3D cinema.
“Originally with 3D films the customer had to wear a pair of cardboard glasses that were hardly comfortable and, to be honest, the quality was shocking. Now it’s so different. The viewer still wears glasses but they are now like sun glasses and the product is so much better.
“It really is very different. And I think audiences have changed too. We now show films to suit just about every taste and with multi screens there is usually something for everyone.
“We are also now showing live theatre productions and even music concerts which are shown live. This has really taken off and, for instance, when we recently showed Othello, a national theatre production, the theatre was packed.
“It makes sense really. You get a front row seat for very little money and don’t have to travel to London or fork out for hotels.
“And you get to see the actors, or performers, every facial expression and hear perfectly the dialogue. I can see live theatre beamed to cinemas continuing to grow as far as cinemas are concerned.”
“But cinema has also improved in many other ways. For example we now welcome disabled customers and have autistic friendly screenings as well as sub-titled films and audio description films. No one is excluded from cinemas these days and that’s how it should be.
“People might have TVs with huge screens but nothing beats going to a cinema and watching a film on the big silver screen. It’s a totally different concept.”
In 20 years of working for the Odeon Chris, has seen more than 5,000 films and he’s hoping to clock up his 6,000th movie soon.
He added: “I first went to the cinema with my father when I was about seven or maybe eight. We went to see Lawrence of Arabia and I was just amazed by the whole experience.
“After I left Marcher Sound I started with the Odeon at Plas Coch in Wrexham before transferring to Eagles Meadow when it opened about eight years ago. I really enjoy coming to work and no two days are the same.
“I was dragged up by customers to dance along to Abba songs when we showed Mama Mia and I’ve often dressed as major film characters to help give customers a really good cinema experience.”
“My favourite films have got to be both of the Magnificent Seven films, the original and the recent remake. I love anything with Steve McQueen in; he was such an amazing actor.
“I also like Meryl Streep films; she never makes a bad film, while the best acting I think I’ve personally seen was Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight a few years ago. They were simply magnificent.”
“I’m looking forward to another big year for cinema too with the next Star wars film due out at the end of the year and a new Justice League blockbuster in November.
“And I’m really looking to the remake of Blade Runner with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling taking the lead roles which is coming out too. Cinema never rests.
“I’ve worked with fantastic floor staff over the years and brilliant management teams as well and met so many wonderful customers over the past 20 years”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley congratulated Chris on reaching his important milestone.
He said: “The Odeon cinema has a big role to play so far as the success of Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre is concerned. It’s a popular venue and brings many visitors into the area.
“Chris is a popular member of the Odeon team and he is to be congratulated on his 20 years of loyal service. He must have seen countless films over the years and welcomed many thousands of people to the Odeon cinema.”
He added: “I hope Chris continues working at the Odeon for many years to come. He clearly has good customer service skills and is a credit to the Odeon and Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre.”