After a 50-year absence, and a nine-year battle by local residents, Crystal Palace is finally getting its own cinema again.
Everyman Cinemas have announced that the venue on Church Road will re-open its doors as a picture house next month.
Thanks to the tireless efforts by the Picture Palace Campaign to have the building returned to its former use, Everyman Cinemas exchanged contracts on the building in January and are soon to complete the restoration and refurbishment of the venue.
The 1920s-built Rialto has not shown a movie since 1968, and after decades as a increasingly run-down bingo hall, it spent half a dozen years as the home for an evangelical church before, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing over the property price, Everyman acquired the building. They have spent more than £3million repairing and enhancing the venue to become the kind of luxury cinema associated with their brand.
The first movies to grace the silver screen in the new Palace Picture Palace will be Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Grinch on Friday, November 16.
Everyman is an independent network of boutique cinemas, which offers food and drink, comfy sofa seating and a broad programme of films and live broadcast arts events. Crystal Palace will be its 22nd venue, with other venues due to open later this year, making the group the fastest growing independent cinema network in the country.
“The response from the community in Crystal Palace has been incredible,” Crispin Lilly, Everyman’s chief exec, said.
“We know it’s something that they’ve campaigned for and it’s such a storied building so we can’t wait to do it justice. Everyman is all about the experience of a night at the cinema, so whether it’s the design of the venue, great food and drink, sofa seating and broad programme of films, we want to make people fall in love with that experience.”
Annabel Sidney, the local resident who chairs the Picture Palace Campaign, said: “When I organised the first meeting of what became the Picture Palace Campaign back in June 2009 – in the Royal Albert pub on Westow Hill – I never dreamt it would take so long to get our cinema back. The first meeting attracted 45 people. A public meeting we held in the Queens Hotel, Crystal Palace just a few months later would attract over 1,000.
“Lots of lasting friendships have been formed. The Campaign would like to thank everyone who supported us – people who signed petitions, put campaign cards through people’s doors, attended Bromley council planning committee meetings etc etc – and, last but not least, a huge thank you to Everyman, who prove that dreams can come true.”
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