News Walthamstow

Waltham Forest could get its only cinema back in ‘mid to late July’

Exclusive: While stressing that no firm opening date has yet been agreed, the operator of Forest Cinemas has said he is aiming to open next month, reports Rana Rastegari and Marco Marcelline

The Scene building in Walthamstow which houses the old Empire cinema, Credit: Waltham Forest Council. Inset image credit: Esther Simpson

The operators who have taken over the shuttered Walthamstow Empire are aiming to re-open it in “mid to late July.”

Speaking exclusively to the Echo, James Jervis, director of PDJ Cinemas, said his team had yet to confirm an exact date and stressed that the current projection could be subject to change “depending on deliveries and technical details”. 

Once open, Forest Cinemas, will include entirely upgraded screens and an all new projection and surround sound system. 

After the grand opening, PDJ will also be working to upgrade the seating screen by screen, which is a longer process and will therefore take “a few months”.

Meanwhile, the Empire’s former upstairs VIP lounge area will be turned into an Alfred Hitchcock themed-bar that will be accessible by lift. 

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PDJ has additionally promised a film programme of Hollywood hits mixed with international and independent flicks.

Describing why he opted to take over the Empire, Jervis said that “cinema is massively important for communities” for it “provides human interaction and has a cultural significance”.

When the Empire was shut down in July 2023, due to operating challenges and Covid-related declines in income, the borough was left without a cinema and all 27 employees were made redundant. 

In October last year, a group of local cinema enthusiasts backed away from a potential collaboration with the Prince Charles Cinema to open a mixed-use independent cinema at the site because of the high cost of fixing the damage done by squatters who occupied the site briefly in September.

PDJ Cinemas operates four cinemas across the UK, including Romford’s Premiere cinema, which offers a flat rate of £3.50 for tickets. Forest Cinemas will be the newest addition to the business.

Speaking previously, James said: “We’re thrilled to breathe new life into the cinema at the Scene in Walthamstow, soon to be known as Forest Cinemas. This momentous occasion extends beyond just reopening doors; we’re reigniting a love for storytelling that captivates, challenges, and most importantly, entertains.”

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