A much-loved Worcestershire cinema which closed ‘for good’ in the summer is set to reopen as an independent venue as a team of film enthusiasts aim to ‘usher’ in a new era.
Kidderminster ’s only film venue – Reel Cinema in Green Street – shut at the start of the coronavirus lockdown on March 20, but was due to reopen in July. But then the venue announced ‘with a heavy heart’ that it was ‘permanently closed’ on July 20.
Now three ‘social entrepreneurs’ have stepped in to revive and refurbish the venue, which will be renamed the Lume Cinema and Café, and provide cinemagoers with a ‘much-needed escape’ from their everyday lives.
James Anderson Brown founder of The Mockingbird Cinema in Birmingham, together with Anthony Hughes and Eddy Morton, founders of Stourbridge Community Development Trust, have confirmed they are now redeveloping the four-screen cinema, after they negotiated with the building’s owner.
The trio believe with multiplex chain cinemas closing that there is a ‘huge gap in cinema entertainment’ in Kidderminster and the wider Wyre Forest area.
James Anderson Brown said: “Cinema has been a part of the town since the turn of the 20th Century, it has always been a way to bring people together.
“The town used to have many cinema theatres such as The Grand Theatre, Royal Bijou and Empire right up to the Warehouse and Reel.
“These were always places to really spend a great night out in opulent surroundings that transported people from the everyday reality to a world of escape.
“This is why they were often called Picture Palaces and people really need that escape now more than ever.
“You cannot stream or download an experience like going to the cinema and we will be bringing back that classic experience in the way we develop the look and feel of the space.”
The new-look four-screen cinema should be open ‘next March’ with the new owners promising the venue will also offer a ‘range of other community benefits’, as well as a cinema experience.
Eddy Morton said: “We really want to offer something to the whole community of Kidderminster through the various projects and initiatives.
“The space will not only be an amazing new independent cinema but a space for meeting, community activity and a great café for the local businesses, shoppers and specific groups to book for private event use.”
While Anthony Hughes said: “We have formed a new community development trust for the town and will use the cinema as our first social enterprise to engage both film audiences and other community groups who will also benefit from the downstairs café and arts space.”
The cinema entrepreneurs said their site will be ‘truly independent’ and will show new blockbusters as well as themed-screenings and events.
Mr Hughes added: “It may seem like a difficult time to be taking on this sort of venture with many major releases being put back to next year, but we believe that we can meet the challenge.
“Many people really miss going to the cinema and can’t wait to get back to see films the way they were intended to be seen – on the big screen.
“With our strict social distancing procedures and meeting the guidelines of whatever the ‘new normal’ looks like when we open, we will offer a safe great quality experience for both film fanatics and general audiences across the region.”