Kensal Rise cinema reopening on May 17 with new second screen
- Credit: Zute Lightfoot
Rising "like a phoenix" on May 17 is a Kensal Rise cinema which very nearly burnt to the ground.
The Lexi Cinema, in Chamberlayne Road, is opening its doors on Monday fully refurbished with a new second screen in an additional building adding 30 more seats to its existing 75.
May 17 is the date promised by the government for the re-opening of cinemas, theatres, gyms, in the inside of pubs and much more.
Social distancing means the Lexi can’t yet expand beyond 50 per cent capacity but staff are "keeping fingers and toes crossed for June 21!"
Sally Wilton, founder of the social-enterprise cinema, said: "The last 14 months have had their highs and their lows."
The not-for-profit organisation began constructing a new community hub last August after raising more than £500,000 over a two-year campaign.
Then in September a fault in a drinks fridge in the bar within the cinema kiosk caused a blaze in the foyer.
The fire brigade was called at 1am and had the flames under control within 55 minutes.
While forced to close due to the pandemic, staff and volunteers operated a food bank for the most vulnerable locals.
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Sally added: "The excitement and thrill of our new build adding 30 more seats to our existing 75 was the highest point of the pandemic.
"Shifting two tonnes of food via our food bank was necessary, satisfying and demonstrated our community in action.
"Walking into the box office after the fire and seeing the fire and smoke damage was devastating to us – our beautiful picture palace was no more.
"But, we have risen like a Phoenix, with the never ending support of our community."
Its opening programme includes Oscar winning Nomadland and Judas and the Black Messiah.
They have half term screenings for children and the carer and baby screenings are back every Wednesday at 11am.
All Monday screenings are £5 for all members and £7 for everyone else, except on bank holidays.
A new membership for under-26s has been introduced for just £14 a year, which includes a free ticket, £2 off all other tickets for a year, 10pc off at the bar, and £5 Monday tickets.
Sally added: "We cannot wait to welcome everyone back to enjoy a film on each of our two big screens and raise a glass to our much loved and enlarged Lexi cinema.”