Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Picture Palace: Cinema Deserves a Shrine

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Picture Palace: Cinema Deserves a Shrine

Article excerpt

As the great and the good of west London, including Stephen Frears, Joseph Fiennes and their contacts books, try to save Notting Hill's Coronet Cinema from closure, they could try looking further east for inspiration.

The Coronet seems about to go the way of hundreds of other picture palaces with their deep-pile crimson carpets and hissing ushers. In 1946, there were 4,036 cinemas. If all of England had rushed out on the same Saturday to see Beauty and the Beast, there would have been room for a tenth of the population. Manchester alone had 122 cinemas. Grays in Essex had four cinemas, which between them could seat 5,790 in a town of 18,000. There are now 2,070 screens, in 551 cinemas. Multiplexes account for 60 per cent of admissions.

Many of these picture palaces went to religion, the big auditoriums being perfect for packing the pews. The Hispano-Mooresque cinema in Finsbury Park, north London, is now owned by a religious sect. The Avenue cinema in Ealing, also known as "Spanish City", is a church and the Rio Cinema in Hackney became a mosque. Richard Gray of the Cinema Theatre Association says: "Continuing cinema use invariably means them being chopped into smaller cinemas. Church use is one of the least intrusive ways of finding a continuous use for these vast buildings."

But the fate of one picture palace should give hope to the Coronet. Last year, the Grade II-listed art-deco EMD Cinema in Walthamstow--patronised by the young Alfred Hitchcock, famous for its African-sky ceiling propped up by palms--closed after 73 years. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.