Southside Cinema leads to increase in local business

Film season sees visitor numbers increase in entertainment centre.

Businesses in Birmingham’s Southside district have seen an upturn in trade thanks to increased footfall in area, stemming from a month-long outdoor cinema installed by Southside BID.

The BID team transformed the pedestrianised space on Hurst Street and Ladywell Walk with 120 metres of artificial grass, a 16.5 sq m giant outdoor screen and 100 deckchairs. The film schedule was designed by The Electric to include unique films such as Aladdin, Stan and Ollie and Dumbo, and all showings were free-to-attend.

With two films shown per day every Friday to Sunday, the outdoor screen attracted more than 1,200 extra visitors to Southside, averaging close to 70 people at every showing. The upturn in footfall to Hurst Street was reflected in sales to the neighbouring businesses, with many nearby traders reporting growths in sales.

Local hotspots The Meat Shack and The Green Room both ran out of stock on days when the screen was in use; Paul Collis from The Meat Shack stated that all of the restaurant’s burgers were sold out after lunchtime on Sunday 1st September, and The Green Room manager, Ben Carter, reported a total sell out of beer on the first weekend of the Southside Cinema.

Elsewhere, Maharaja owner NS Batt used the special Bollywood event at the outdoor screen as a chance to hand out samples, which brought dozens of new faces into the restaurant. Jo Kinsella, centre manager of The Arcadian, and Mukith Miah from Birmingham Back to Backs both confirmed increased footfall and dwell time in their respective businesses during cinema screenings.

As well as being a draw for visitors, the screen was also offered to local businesses to display their own marketing materials at no cost. Venues such as the Hippodrome, Old Rep and Glee Club all played promotional video content, whilst Dorian Chan of Wing Wah said that the advertising costs for what they received would have been several thousand pounds.

The Southside Cinema was completely funded by the BID team as way of showcasing how the space could be used when the planned renovation of the area is complete. Work is due to start next spring/summer on pedestrianising Hurst Street and installing a giant Chinese archway on Ladywell Walk.

Julia Robinson, manager at Southside BID, said: “The Southside Cinema has been a huge success, not just for those pulling up a deck chair and having a great family day out, but for all businesses in the district. The films on show were handpicked to draw a crowd, with Aladdin being shown on the day of its DVD release. We partnered with An Indian Summer to host the last leg of its Bollywood tour, and all shows were well attended.

“With improvement work planned for next year, we wanted to give residents and visitors a taste of what can be done in the future with the space, which will be available to all tenants to use how they like in order to benefit their businesses.”

For more information on events and activities in Southside, visit