Cinema dream becomes a reality

PUBLISHED: 09:34 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:25 23 August 2010

CAMPAIGN: Kieron Butler, 15.

CAMPAIGN: Kieron Butler, 15.

HUNDREDS of film fans packed into the borough s premier theatre as big screen cinema returned to the town after more than five years.

HUNDREDS of film fans packed into the borough's premier theatre as big screen cinema returned to the town after more than five years.

Gravesham Borough Council launched "Monday Night at the Movies" on Monday will High School Musical 3 and Quantum of Solace on show at the Woodville Halls, Gravesend.

Films, including recent box office hit Slumdog Millionaire and the romantic epic Australia, will be shown every month until April in a four-month trail.

Kieron Butler, 15, of St Georges Crescent, Gravesend, was at the screening and collected 5,000 signatures to reinstate a cinema in the town after the EMD cinema in King Street closed for business in 2003.

He said: "I think what they have done is unbelievable. I am really happy. It shows the young people of Gravesend that the council are listening to them.

"We have got something in the town that they can be proud of, and the reaction from everyone that came seems to be really positive.

"I have really enjoyed myself. There is still a bit of work to do, and I would still like to see a proper cinema back in town, but I hope it remains popular in the future so it can continue. I think it can get even better."

The Reporter launched a campaign to reinstate a cinema in October 2005, gathering support from hundreds of readers and campaigner Kieron.

In January 2006 the building was burnt down by arsonists. No one was ever prosecuted for the devastating inferno.

On Monday both films were watched by about 200 people. As well as a popcorn stand in the theatre, ice cream was sold during the interval, and the Kent Bar was open for visitors to enjoy a drink before the film. Cinema-goers were also all entered into a draw to win a signed photo of Gravesend-born actress Gemma Arterton, who stars in the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for leisure David Turner said: "We all know that the demise of the movie theatre left a big hole in the leisure facilities of the town.

"All the signs are that this is going to be extremely popular. There is nothing like watching a film on the big screen."

Ticket prices are £6 for adults and £4 for children under the age of 14. For box office information, contact 01474 337774. The next screening, of Madagascar 2 and Australia, will be on February 23.

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