Caped crusaders wing their way to Leicester

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Hollywood came to Leicester last night. To be precise, Hollywood came to the Meridian Leisure Park, Lubbersthorpe Way, Braunstone, on the outskirts of Leicester.

If the film world has an equivalent of "off Broadway", this was it. Certainly, the stars of the new Batman film, Batman Forever, were rubbing their eyes as their helicopters, chartered in London, dropped them off for the UK premiere in a car park on an industrial estate just off the M1. There, from a specially erected platform, the likes of Val Kilmer (Batman), Chris O'Donnell (Robin), and the director Joel Schumacher, addressed the local throng.

So, farewell Leicester Square, hello Leicester. A West End location for a film premiere is no longer an essential because for the big Hollywood film studios the hardware is assuming as much importance as the software. In other words, you may or may not like the movies, but you're sure as hell going to love the cinema.

Last night Warner Brothers invited 2,500 people to Leicester because here was the site of its new pounds 9m multiplex. The revolutionary futuristic design, soon to be replicated all over the world, is based on a Hollywood sound stage.

The interior of the cinema resembled a giant film set - complete with high ceilings, hanging lamps and gantries, plus life-size models of the Looney Tunes characters - and all nine screens feature the most up to date digital surround sound and projection facilities in the world.

Visiting celebrities included the rock band Oasis, and actresses Patsy Kensit and Julie Walters, though the film's female lead, Nicole Kidman, had not managed to charter a helicopter from Wiltshire where she is filming. Half of the Manchester United football team were also there - including Eric Cantona, dispelling the belief that he was a devotee of kung fu films.