THE smell of warm popcorn filled the air as film-lovers attended the opening of Darlington’s brand new multi-million pound multiplex cinema today (Thursday June 23).

The unveiling of the nine-screen Vue cinema represents a major milestone in the development of the £30m Feethams Leisure complex and it is somewhat fitting that on EU referendum day, the cinema’s first screening was ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’.

And one wonders whether people were too busy voting in one of the country’s most important elections in recent history to watch a Hollywood blockbuster mid-morning, as the cinema opened with little fanfare and not a queue in sight.

Or maybe people were just at work or enjoying the sunshine.

Regardless, it is expected that the crowds will flock to the venue this weekend as a ‘Feethams Fest’ has been organised to help give the cinema a welcome celebration that such a significant venue surely deserves.

It has long been a complaint of Darlington residents that they are forced to travel to Teesside to enjoy blockbuster films in a luxurious, contemporary surrounding as the town’s only offer in recent years has been the ageing Odeon on Northgate.

Well now there can be no complaints as the £4.6m Vue cinema is certainly all bells and whistles.

Gone are the days of uncomfortable, cramped fold-up chairs, replaced with row upon row of suede-effect seats with armrests, intertwined with reclining, red, VIP seats exuding that distinct leather smell.

The entrance foyer is shiny and spacious with an arrangement of burnt orange chairs and immaculate glass tables near large windows giving the lobby an air of hotel sophistication.

General manager, Rachel Carter, is certainly excited about the cinema, proudly proclaiming that the venue is superior to all others.

She said: “The facilities just don’t compare to any other cinemas, it’s a real high quality finish across the board, whether that be seats, cup holders, the projectors, we’ve really emphasised on the seating, the sound and the screen.

“It doesn’t get better than this. It’s incomparable to any other cinemas.”

And it is not just the general ambience that Ms Carter enthuses about, as she tells us that the cinema is equipped with the latest technology to ensure that the viewers’ film experience will be as immersive as possible.

She said: “The screens are massive, this is how all modern cinemas are designed now, with floor to ceiling screen, Dolby sound and 4K projection.

“It is completely modernised compared to other cinemas.”

So for film buffs and occasional cinema-goers alike, the Vue is surely a welcome addition, promising to bring Hollywood glitz and glamour to a small corner of Darlington town centre for many years to come.