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image1289369 phoenixcinemawikicommons 640069The auditorium in the Phoenix Cinema (Source: Wikicommons)

imageDevotees of a historic and unique north London cinema have launched an online petition aimed at persuading the trust that owns it to abandon a plan to transfer its running to a national chain.

The Phoenix in East Finchley is one of the country's oldest continuously running cinemas and has never been part of any chain of cinemas.  However, the Phoenix Cinema Trust recently announced that marketing, programming and ticketing activities are to be transferred to Curzon Cinemas later this year.  A Save the Phoenix campaigning group has been formed, complaining that there was no consultation with staff or regular customers, and suggesting that there are better options to retain the cinema's unique character.

The small picture house in High Road East Finchley opened in 1912 as the East Finchley Picturedrome, later becoming the Coliseum and then the Rex.  It was still the Rex when I was living in East Finchley in the early 1970s.  At the time it was unusual because instead of showing an "A" film and "B" film, as was the normal practice at the time, anyone buying a ticket to the continuous performances would get to see two "A" films.  For instance, being a student of Russian I naturally took the opportunity to visit the Rex to see One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. As an added bonus I got an unplanned introduction to Woody Allen - Take the Money and Run - providing the required antidote to the gloomy picture of life in the Gulag.

Certainly, it's not really fair to dismiss Curzon as just another national chain.  It too has a distinguished history of showing carefully selected films that might otherwise go unwatched.  But the survival of the Phoenix is to a large extent thanks to the devotion to keeping its unique qualities shown by both staff and regular customers and their voice should definitely be heard.  If there are alternatives to the Curzon route to keep this north London treasure, I think they should be explored thoroughly.

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply #4124 22 Oct 2018 23:39

The Save the Phoenix campaign has started a crowdfunder to help retain the East Finchley cinema's independence.

Save The Phoenix has grave concerns that the takeover will:

1. Threaten the cinema’s educational, community and children’s programmes in favour of more commercially profitable screenings – The Phoenix is a community hub in East Finchley, providing a space for local artists to exhibit their work, free dementia friendly cinema screenings, children’s workshops, learning programmes for young people, and more.

2. Lead to price increases as the new operators seek profit from their investment – The Phoenix is currently one of the area’s most affordable and accessible cinemas.

3. Put the Phoenix’s long-term future at risk – This is a short-term solution which put the fate of the Phoenix in the hands of a commercial operator, who will put profit before the cinema’s longevity.

4. Risk the jobs of many of the cinema’s workers, as Curzon have been unable to guarantee no redundancies – The Phoenix hires and supports local creatives with a passion for film.
PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #4143 24 Oct 2018 23:02

Save the Phoenix have sent a further message to supporters about the crowdfunding campaign, which runs until 1st November.

Time is running out to save the Phoenix - donate to save the cinema!

The cinema’s Board of Trustees have said they think that Curzon taking over the cinema is the only option to preserve its long term future. We disagree: they have not explored the option of fundraising to support the cinemas independence. That’s why we’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to show the Trustees that there is an alternative to private operation. Independence will allow the Phoenix to retain its unique character, continue its community programmes and ensure the job security of the staff. If everyone who signed this petition donated £5 today, we would reach our target immediately.

Find out more about why we’re fundraising and please donate anything you can at .

If we can raise enough money to support the continued independence of the cinema, the Board will be forced to think again about their decision to sell to Curzon. We want to show them this is a reality - we have £1,500, but there is more to raise!

We passionately believe that the Phoenix should remain in the hands of the community and run for the benefit of the community, not for profit.

There will also be a community meeting held at the Phoenix on this Sunday 28th October at 12pm, where you can put your questions to the Board of Trustees. You can reserve a spot here.

Please spread the word - we only have until 1st November to show the board the cinema has a future in the hands of the community! Anything you can do is greatly appreciated. Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved in our campaign: .

Thank you for your support,
Save the Phoenix

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