David Lean Cinema re-opening night is sold out within hours

So much for Croydon Council’s claims, made when they closed the David Lean Cinema three years ago, that there’s no demand for an art house cinema in the borough. Seats for the re-opening night of the David Lean Cinema on March 27 had all but sold out within a few hours of going on sale today (the only three seats remaining are wheelchair access positions).

Fred Burns, director of Basically Johnny Moped, with Raymond Burns, aka Captain Sensible

Fred Burns, director of Basically Johnny Moped, with Raymond Burns, aka Captain Sensible

Organised by the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign, the first public screening since 2011 at the small, specialist auditorium in the borough’s Clocktower arts venue will be Basically, Johnny Moped, directed by Fred Burns, the son of former Damned guitarist and notable son of Croydon, Captain Sensible.

Fred and Raymond Burns, together with the aforementioned Mr Moped, will also be present on March 27 for a post-screening talk. The film will get a further showing on Friday, March 28 (for which tickets remain available), with the Campaign’s weekly film shows – which have been held in the Spread Eagle pub just next to the Town Hall for the past three years – starting the following Thursday with 12 Years A Slave.

The sell-out success is despite the council-run Croydon Visitor Centre, next to East Croydon railway station, being unable to handle ticket sales today, as had originally been promised.

An email sent to Campaign members (though inexplicably not sent to Inside Croydon Towers) this morning said: “We regret that it willk [sic] not be possible to book seats at Croydon Visitor Centre until next week. Online or telephone bookings CAN be made, as advertised. If you intended to book via CVC today, let us know if you would like us to assist. Sincere apologies for any confusioin! [sic]”

When asked why the Visitor Centre was not taking bookings, Adrian Winchester, the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign chairman, said, “I honestly don’t know yet. I’m shortly looking into it myself.

“It’s a surprise to me but maybe there was a misunderstanding in terms of the communication between them and one of my colleagues, so it might have been our mistake. It’s regrettable but things have moved so fast that some sort of ‘teething troubles’ seemed likely. I’m certainly not critical of CVC as they have gone out of their way to be as helpful as possible.”

The window display at the Croydon Visitor Centre today. The "Tickets available" sign might need some adjustment

The window display at the Croydon Visitor Centre today. The “Tickets available” sign might need some adjustment

The near-1,000 members of the cinema group were circulated with the following message yesterday evening: “Ever since it was launched in May 2011, the Campaign has resolutely pursued it’s key objective of bringing cinema back to the David Lean…

“It has been a long haul characterised by delays and frustrations, but also by the camaraderie that has developed between a diverse group of supporters who have been willing to put political and ideological differences to one side, at least when supporting the Campaign! The community spirit we have witnessed has often been inspirational, and of course an obvious plus side has been the many hours spent watching high-quality films typical of the David Lean,” Winchester wrote.

“We could easily have been disheartened by the lack of dramatic progress and withered away. Some pessimists said that DLC screenings ‘will never happen’. But our response to any setbacks was to keep making the case for a reopened DLC, and always keep growing.”

Winchester describes next month’s events as “a major breakthrough that does not constitute a re-opened David Lean, but it’s the first significant step towards that objective”.

Coming to Croydon

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