HERE’S looking at you kid!

Casablanca, the classic Humphrey Bogart movie about an American expatriate who encounters an ex-lover in wartime Morocco, has been chosen to breathe new life into another old favourite.

The 1942 adventure starring Bogart and Ingrid Bergman will be the first film screened at a Hampshire cinema when it re-opens next month.

The Regal in Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge, stopped showing movies more than 50 years ago.

Builders have spent the past few months turning the former pottery back into a cinema as well as building eight apartments that will form part of the new picture palace.

The £1 million scheme has been drawn up by Fordingbridge-based Corintech, which hopes the flats will help the electronics company recruit young engineers.

Brian Currie, Corintech’s owner and chairman, has decided to retain the building’s Art Deco-style appearance.

“We’ve had to do an enormous amount of work,” he said.

“The interior looked like an aircraft hanger but you could see traces of the old Regal. The external ladder to the projection room is still there, although the room itself will be one of the new apartments.

“The main thing was the sloping floor.”

Mr Currie is planning to open the cinema over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May, although the exact date has yet to be finalised.

The 71-year-old entrepreneur is already suffering from first-night nerves - six weeks early.

“I’m actually a bit scared,” he said. “I hadn’t realised how much enthusiasm the project would generate in the town. I can’t walk down the High Street without someone asking me when the cinema will open.

“The level of expectation has left me feeling a little nervous.”

Asked why he had chosen Casablanca as the first film Mr Currie said the much-loved movie was the same vintage as the building.

He added: “I was on a cruise ship in Tangier recently and the film of the day was Casablanca. My wife, who had never seen it, said it was brilliant.”

The planning application was approved by New Forest District Council in August last year after attracting 300 comments - but no objections.

Speaking at the time Cllr Ann Sevier said: “Everyone is Fordingbridge is quite excited about this building being brought back into use.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, the 30-seat cinema will be run by a club similar to those already operating in other towns.