IT'S down to the public to save independent cinema, the boss of a small independent chain has said.

After receiving Government grants worth more than £100,000, Northern Morris Cinemas' managing director Charles Morris reveals that people still haven't returned in their droves.

He said: "It's taken a while for us to get back into gear.

"We have been open since May and the only film that has brought people in their numbers is No Time to Die.

"James Bond is always reliable - we knew it would do well - but even then it wasn't as high as we were expecting."

"The money will help keep us going but it's down to the public to start coming back now."

As part of the Culture Recovery Fund, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have awarded The Roxy in Ulverston £46,459 and The Royalty in Bowness £84,018.

However, they are constrained in how they can spend it and if operating profits return to pre-pandemic levels, they will have to return part of it.

They are part of a small group of six cinemas all located in the North of England.

Mr Morris worries that people are still cautious of indoor spaces.

He said: "I think people are still worried about enclosed spaces, especially with cases back on the rise.

"Between October half-term and Christmas people usually go into hibernation anyway, but we're struggling in this period."

He stressed that the chain are still operating physical distancing policies. Gaps are left so that every other row is being left empty, as well as gaps between groups, and entries and exits to rows are on a one-way basis.

Originally developed for theatres, the Fund was extended so that some other entertainment businesses could apply too.

"If it was normal times, we wouldn't have been able to apply," he explained.

"The amount of paperwork required is astonishing - I only had time because we were locked down at the time and closed."

However, he had some hope for the near future.

He finished: "There are plenty of good, anticipated films coming out - West Side Story, Spiderman, The Matrix."

"It's in the lap of the gods and the lap of the general public.

"If people want their cinemas to survive, they have to come to us."