I went to the cinema last night. Not unusual I know, except that in Crystal Palace, until recently, the last time you’d have been able to visit the cinema, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Where Eagles Dare were on general release. In 1968, the Rialto on Church Road became a Bingo Hall, and then a few years ago it became a church. Locals had been campaigning for years to bring a cinema back to the area, so when the former Rialto came up for sale again last year, there was huge excitement that the Everyman Cinema Group had purchased the building.
What had been one vast single auditorium, has been successfully divided into 4, along with 2 bars, and lots of space off the main foyer for eating, drinking and socialising. The interiors, by Fusion Design & Architecture
are spectacular, injecting plenty of glamour, while retaining and enhancing the best bits of the original 1930s design.
There certainly seems to be a major cinema revival going on at the moment, and it’s not restricted to London or other large cities. In small towns, bijou little picture houses are opening, such as Kino, in Rye and Hawkhurst. I recently found myself on assignment in Derbyshire shooting a home in the pretty market town of Wirksworth. The home, on the first floor of an old Victorian malthouse, belongs to Esther Patterson, a lighting designer, & her husband, Paul Carr, who have only gone and opened a wonderful little cinema on the ground floor, called The Northern Light. Furnished with reconditioned cinema seating and retro armchairs done up in assorted vintage fabrics, it’s more Nan’s front room than Odeon. And there’s home made food in the bar, which you can also hire out for private parties and screenings.
What all these venues have in common, is that they are so much more than your average multiplex. They are real community hubs, where you might just meet up with mates in the bar, or arrange your own private screening. However, if you’re just after a recommendation for a really good film, last night I was watching The Favourite.