Remember the days when a weekly family trip to the local movie theatre was the norm. Where seeing a “moving picture” was an event. Now it can be said that the great institution of the cinema, with all its silver screen and flicker of the projector lustre, has devolved. Now people rarely go to the cinema; it isn’t an event anymore. Where the line between “the theatre” and “the movie theatre” used to be blurred, it is now fully formed and distinct. Without wanting to sound overly cynical either, cinema has become a commercial machine.
Maybe it is just good old nostalgia lying to us about how the good old days were. But that’s not what Picturehouse, the UK’s No 1 arthouse chain, believe. They believe that it’s time to bring back some class, some ‘je ne sais quoi’ to it all. As part of a large expansion plan they are opening a decadent 8 screen cinema in the heart of London, in the West End, right by Leicester Square, amongst all the “real theatres”. It will hold special weekly niche film slots such as Silver Screen for the over 60s and a cult film showing. As well as 1000 seats, Picturehouse Central will also have a members’ bar and a rooftop terrace. Hopefully this will be more than just nostalgic and make a real impact on customers’ expectations from there cinemas – hopefully it will bring back some heart to the cinema, and boost the London film scene, benefitting both film-fans and film-makers alike.
As part of the promotional campaign surrounding Picturehouse Central is the Founder Members offer. The first 2000 people to buy Picturehouse membership online will have their name engraved into the building on the specially commissioned Founder Members’ Wall in the Members’ Bar, in what could be a very important building for cinema in London – as well as receive many other benefits exclusive to Founder Members’.
Co-founder and managing director of Picturehouse Cinemas, Lyn Goleby, says “People like to gather in darkened spaces to watch stories – I don’t think that will go away for a very long time” – and I don’t think it should, there is a certain magic to cinema that has been lost and I hope this venture for Picturehouse Cinemas is the push in the right direction. The beginning of the process of bringing life back to the movie theatre, the beginning of a second renaissance.