Bromley residents fight to save Picturehouse cinema

Supporters are uniting to try and prevent the closure of Bromley Picturehouse following the announcement that the vintage cinema would be closing down on 1st August.

As one of the few pre-war cinemas still in use, the cinema originally opened in 1936 as an Odeon Theatre and was one of the original Oscar Deutsch Odeon theatres.

With no reason provided for the cinema’s closure, Bromley residents and fans of the cinema united with the Facebook group ‘Save Bromley Picturehouse’ – a page with more 1,200 members.

Admin of the group, Jon Lock, created the group upon hearing of the closure.

Lock said: “Bromley Picturehouse is very dear to me. I’ve shared many movies with family, friends and even my dog – it’s my form of meditation where I can lose myself for hours.

“I don’t know where it’ll take us but I’m inspired by the passion of the following we currently have.

“I feel deeply for the staff who always made each visit a joy.”

Lock’s current aims are to gather support for the group and to understand the reasons behind closure so that the group can help provide solutions.

They have launched a petition to stop the cinema from closing down and have currently received more than 3,500 signatures.

They are also planning on having a group meeting on Thursday.

Group member Rob Carrick said: “The Picturehouse was set apart from other mainstream cinemas as it showed a wider variety of movies that wouldn’t make it to the screen in places like Vue.

“The setting resonated with the golden age of cinema as the building has personality and grandeur and to see it locked up and empty is a travesty.

“The resounding view of people on the Facebook group is that its potential was never fully realised.

“Certainly, my own view is that there is so much more that could have been done with the space and better use made of the facilities and it feels a shame that this opportunity isn’t being presented.

“I think that’s why people feel strongly about this as they want to see it remain, even if as more of a cultural hub.

“Given that we are set to lose Churchill Theatre, this feels quite timely – what better place to open as a multi-use centre?”

The 1936 building was originally designed by cinema architect George Coles, and had the deeply curved recess that remains today as well as a prominent facade that was rebuilt.

Since then, it has been passed down to Empire Cinemas in 2006 and to Cineworld in 2019 where it was turned into Picturehouse by Earle Architects restoration of the art deco décor and legacy frontage in homage to its roots.

The surviving interior features such as the original rubber floor and Art Deco lights were also reinstated.  

The alternative cinema for Bromley would be Vue, which opened in 2018 as part of the Bromley South Central scheme.

Director of the South London Film Festival Kyriakos Georgiou said: “Bromley Picturehouse has been the festival’s home for the past few years and with the closure we will have to find a new home.

“We would pick Picturehouse mainly because the venue is absolutely beautiful, their screen capacity and bar is big enough for our audiences and Picturehouse as a brand has a special place in the hearts of many indie film lovers.

“So Bromley being a great location in South London as well as a very supportive team made us come back.”

The cinema screens indie and classic movies alongside mainstream blockbusters, often hosting a collection of movies based on a relevant director’s favourite movies.

They also provide screenings that were child friendly, dementia friendly, and even those you could go to with your dogs.

Labour candidate for Bromley and Biggin Hill Oana Olaru-Holmes retweeted the petition on X:

Featured image credit: Elif Karakaya

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