Hollywood's Jurassic Park premiere in Carmarthen set for movie

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In 1993 Jurassic Park was screened in Lyric Theatre as part of a campaign to save it from closure.

The story of a hairdresser, who helped bring Hollywood to west Wales to save a local cinema, is becoming a film.

Liz Evans led a campaign that convinced Steven Spielberg to stage a premiere of his 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park in Carmarthen.

Now filming of Save The Cinema has begun across Carmarthenshire under strict Covid-19 rules.

The film, starring Jonathan Pryce and Samantha Morton, will be available towards the end of 2021.

Set in the 90s, the film is based on a true story inspired by the life of Ms Evans who - with the help of postman-turned-local councillor Richard Goodridge - called on Hollywood to save the cinema threatened with closure.

Ms Evans, who ran the Lyric Theatre, approached Mr Goodridge, then the mayor of Carmarthen, in a pub one night about how the film had been withdrawn from the town.

She had an idea to help save the rundown theatre and convinced Mr Goodridge to write to Spielberg, that night, telling him how disappointed and angry local people would be to miss out on the film.

Six days later, he received a reply - not from Spielberg, but from the managing director of United International Pictures - who agreed to send a copy of the film to be shown in the town.

But it did not end there.

The town's 600-seater cinema on King Street was chosen to premiere the film on the same evening as the star-studded London event.

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The story of the premiere is now becoming a film in its own right

Richard Goodridge said: "I took up the issue myself, secretly actually, where I decided to send this fax - because at that time, going back to 1993, there weren't internet connections, there weren't emails.

"I crept into the office at 3am, sent the fax off. The following morning I followed it up with an actual phone call to the offices of Steven Spielberg.

"Whether or not Steven Spielberg ever got to know about it I really don't know to this day. But the effect of it was that we ended up with a copy of the film on opening night.

"It was massive - the world's media quite literally descended on Carmarthen at the time... it saved the cinema from closure."

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Former mayor Richard Goodridge sent the fax at 3am, after discussing the film with Liz Evans at the pub
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The fax that saved a cinema
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The reply fax from United International Pictures changed the fortunes of the Lyric Theatre

Now the story is being retold in the Sky Original production which also features Harry Potter's Tom Felton and Adeel Akhtar and Susan Wokoma, both from Enola Holmes.

Welsh stars Owain Yeoman, Rhod Gilbert and Keith Allen also appear in the film.

Filming locations have included The Lyric, King Street and Spilman Street in Carmarthen and Ammanford Town Hall, as well as in Laugharne and Llandeilo.

Covid filming challenges

The county has previously provided the backdrop to TV drama Keeping Faith, Bollywood film Jungle Cry and Eddie Izzard's Six Minutes to Midnight.

Leader of Carmarthenshire council, Emlyn Dole, said: "Carmarthenshire has a growing reputation as a location for film and TV dramas with its rich diversity in coast and countryside, historic features and both rural and urban landscapes.

"We enjoy working with production companies to explore opportunities for Carmarthenshire to benefit from such screen exposure, both in terms of the economic boost it can bring to local businesses during filming and in the longer term."

Image source, Joann Randles
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Carmarthen-born comedian Rhod Gilbert is among the Welsh actors in the film

But he admitted this had proved more challenging during a pandemic, when locals are being told to stay home and travel is restricted.

"Of course, during Covid we have had to ensure there are enhanced risk assessments and procedures in place in line with Welsh Government guidelines," he said.

"Filming companies working in the area at the moment have worked with us and have been diligent in ensuring all the necessary safety procedures are in place.

"We look forward to seeing the production taking shape and eventually on our screens."