City Screen, Britain's "leading independent cinema operator" and owner of the Picturehouse network, have acquired an old library in Mare Street, Hackney, and plan to covert it into a four-screen cinema. In a reversal of the usual trend, the cinema will replace a nightclub, The Ocean (pictured), which opened to great fanfare (and with serious amounts of cash from Hackney and the Arts Council) in 2001 but never proved a success and closed four years later.
The plan is to convert the building into a four-screen cinema with three bars, the latter of which could be used for occasional music performances. City Screen pride themselves on offering a tailored programme for each location, and have promised to "build a cinema at the heart of the community" and show a mixture of big new releases alongside foreign and art-house films. It's a method that works well at the Ritzy in Brixton, one of the other cinemas in the group.
Hackney is something of a cinematic wasteland: it currently has just one cinema left, the excellent Rio in Dalston, with many others demolished or converted into bingo halls or other businesses; many are listed on the Cinema Treasures website.
Hopefully local residents will take to the Picturehouse: the Hackney Citizen cites a survey last year by the council that revealed a strong preference for cinema, which bodes well for the venue's future success.