MOVIE fans found themselves caught up in a real -life drama when they were evacuated from Accrington's Premiere Cinema after smoke seeped into an auditorium.
Arsonists caused major disruption on a busy Satur-day night after starting a fire in a refuse storage area next to the building. A customer noticed smoke, which had seeped through the air conditioning system into one of the auditoriums.
Cinema manager Toni Carroll said the cinema was evacuated as a precaution. He added: "A customer spotted the smoke building up behind one of the screens and could smell fire so he told our staff."
Staff managed to locate the fire and Mr Carroll tackled it with a fire extinguisher until the Fire Brigade arrived.
He continued: "The staff did really well and everyone walked out nice and calmly. We had about 100 people in there, including families with parents, children and grandparents. Everybody was calm and staff reacted very well."
He added: "We had two sell-out shows on the re-opening night last Friday and the cinema was really busy. Apart from the fire, everything has been going really well since we re-opened. We gave people a refund and many came back on Sunday to watch the film.''
Mr Nigel Rix, a director of Globe Enterprises which is now running the cinema, said audiences in the first week of opening had outstripped expectations. He said the aim was to listen to the views of customers so they could improve the service week by week.
They were already investigating the installation of a loop system to help the hard-of-hearing and there were plans to bring in a Dolby digital sound system.
The cinema hit the headlines last month after its operators, GSX Leisure, went into voluntary liquidation. The Observer then exclusively reported at the beginning of this month that the cinema was set to re-open to the public after being taken over by Globe Enterprises.