Coming attractions: 2 cinemas near Hackney

Site of 2 new Barbican cinemas London 2012

HACKNEY cinema-goers can rejoice: two luxury 156-seat cinemas will open near the Barbican arts centre in a few months’ time. They are being built on the corner of Beech Street (the tunnel) and Whitecross streets, London EC1Y 8JL (above), for launch in October.

The City-funded Barbican used to have three cinemas. Two of them are to be used as convention rooms, and the third, Cinema 1 (are you still following?) is closing for refurbishment, reopening in the middle of this month.

The influx of professionals to Hackney, said by The Times to have the most highly educated under-30s in Britain, is one of the reasons for the cinema boom in the area. Government figures show that young West Londoners are moving east, a new trend.

Once the Rio, which Hackney council has termed the borough’s “cultural gem”, had the market to itself, having seen off two nearby Kingsland Road cinemas. Then the RichMix opened to cater for the south of the borough, followed by the Picturehouse chain, which got hold of a valuable venue from the council for a token charge (a Loving Dalston news exclusive).

The Picturehouse set out immediately to lure notoriously choosy art-house-fans. (Enthusiasts for blockbusters such as the Batman series are easier to entice.)

The extraordinarily well-financially established RichMix has had big marketing drives since it opened. Even the intimate multi-screen Genesis in Stepney E1 4UJ, which became more Hackney-accessible when the East London Line opened, boosted its marketing effort, for example, hosting an installation by an East London artist.

Picturehouse events include a BBC launch of nationally publicised youth schemes, African film festivals, the showing ofa miscarriage of justice documentary, celebrity appearances, screentalks, a Michael Rosen-linked documentary screening, film-education classes, multimedia social-network gatherings, an art gallery, bars, music and of course efficient service and minimal queues.

The dainty lady of Kingsland High Street has admitted to Loving Dalston that it has done little to take on its new rival.

The Picturehouse is not the only rival. Small screens have been put up at the Queen of Hoxton and other venues around Hackney, often drawing big audiences.

David Altheer 030812

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