Planes 3D Digital launch 17 Aug 13

The Astra Cinema has recently undergone a complete refit, consisting of a new cinemascope screen and surround, removal of the old 35mm equipment and installation of the very latest Dolby Digital 3D technology (including Dolby 3D glasses) and an updated surround sound system.

The 3D glasses deserve a special mention here as, unlike their ‘Real D’ counterparts, ours are not disposable items as they cost an astonishing £12 each!  The funding for the upgrade was achieved through a combination of donations from the cinema fund, SSVC, all three Service funds and RAF Halton.  In order to showcase the new equipment, it was decided that in keeping with the RAF Halton centenary of flight theme, the Astra would screen ‘Planes 3D’, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to the charities supported by the BFBS Big Salute.  To encourage as many personnel to attend as possible, all tickets were only £2 each.

As Saturday afternoon eventually arrived, the outside of the Astra became a photo opportunity as the large poster adorning the entrance became the ideal backdrop for that essential pre-movie photo. The doors opened and the large queue of moviegoers thronged into the Astra, purchased their charity tickets and movie sustenance before collecting their 3D glasses, while the children received their free Planes themed goody bags, with popcorn, sweets, a drink and a flying glider!

The digital launch of the Astra cinema commenced with the Planes character drawing competition, with the entries being divided into under and over 5s.  Looking through the excellent creative entries, nobody envied Wg Cdr Gilbert, who had the tough decisions to make!  But through thoughtful reasoning and careful consideration, the winners for both categories were made, with an additional category of ‘best effort’ also being awarded a prize.  An excellent entry from Pete Bennett had to be discounted once his age was deciphered to be 53 and not 5 ¾!!

Between them the winners came away with a whole host of goodies including a Planes soft toy, sticker pack 3D poster, cap, passport holder, luggage tag, and Planes Top Trump pack!

The film played out in the usual Disney style, with everything to entertain both young and old alike, the whole thing made all the better being delivered in glorious Dolby Digital 3D.

After the film, the grass between the Astra and the Saddle Club became a temporary airfield as the children took their recently assembled aircraft to the air, with some surprising distances and aerial acrobatics wowing both children and parents.

The event raised £460 for the BFBS Big Salute charities.

The OIC, Flt Lt Si Cope said afterwards, “The digital upgrade means we can show the very latest releases at the same time as our civilian counterparts and will enable the Astra to continue to entertain and inspire our audiences for many years to come.  I would like to thank all those who helped to make it possible.  Particular praise is due to our lead projectionist, Sgt Dave Hartley and our Treasurer, WO Pam Daley, who continue to commit their time and energy to ensure that the cinema is an ongoing success.”

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