One of the UK's oldest and most treasured cinemas is set to reopen its doors on Friday 30 June with a programme of unmissable events and screenings.
For the last three years, there has been a gaping hole in the heart of Hyde Park. Bereft cinephiles in Leeds have exhausted Mubi’s indie catalogue. The iconic Victorian lamppost outside The Picture House has cast a lonely shadow without regular queues winding around its red cast iron base.
The smell of freshly popped corn and filter coffee has blown away with the breeze. For students and idle passers-by, this beloved corner of Brudenell Road has been cordoned off with Heras fencing and plastic barricades for what seems like an eternity, as refurbishment plans were paused and delayed in stops and starts, as all major developments tend to.
Heritage plasterwork experts have completed minor repairs, with original colour palettes revived to their former glory.
The major face lift was thanks to a £2.3 million refurbishment project to upgrade the 109 year old cinema’s fixtures and fittings and extend the building’s community engagement offering - made possible with the help of National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leeds City Council, Film Hub North, and The Pilgrim and Gwyneth Forrester charitable trusts.
Top of the long wish list of patrons, volunteers and friends of the cinema was to transport the venue into the 21st century without losing those stunning historical features that make the Hyde Park Picture House viewing experience one of a kind.
Improving the entertainment venue’s accessibility has been high on the agenda, with wheelchair users previously subjected to the undignified back entrance fire escape route down the road. Now, Glasgow’s award-winning architectural practice Page/Park have designed a flashy ramp on the front pavement. Baby changing facilities and a hearing loop have also been installed as well as a new accessible toilet and wider snack kiosk.
All nine of the original gas lanterns will flicker for every film on the bill. A second fifty-seater screen underneath the auditorium will allow for a larger more diverse range of programming. The threadbare carpets have been peeled back to reveal the patchwork mosaic terrazzo tiling, and the antique fire hydrant and stained-glass window have been restored with care and attention. Ironworks specialist Peter Meehan has given that ornate lamppost a new lease of life with a lick of paint, and the crumbling façade has been painstakingly cleaned and restored, brick by brick. Heritage plasterwork experts have completed minor repairs, with original colour palettes revived to their former glory.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the extensive overhaul has been the retention of the two 1960s 35mm Cinemeccanica film projectors, which will form a key part of the venues guided heritage tours.
In true Picture House style, the grand reveal will coincide with an opening screening of Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed Asteroid City, followed by a summer of launch events for each of their distinct programme strands: the new Dutch documentary, Shabu (4th July), accompanied by a director Q&A; A partnership with Leeds International African Arts Festival (from 11th July), and a special rerun of Yorkshire classic, Brassed Off (30th July), plus a Q&A with director Mark Herman.
During the launch week, audiences will be invited to view the archive of uncovered artefacts, explore the online journal, visit the new community room, and enjoy free films.
You can find out more and book your tickets here:
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