MORE than a year after it closed, the Windmill Cinema was reopened on Friday night to a packed screening of a film widely tipped for Oscar success.
Scores of people had to be turned away as the Windmill reached capacity for 12 Years a Slave, which recently won best film at the Baftas.
As the curtains opened, more than 200 people cheered for what was the first film screened at the Windmill since Valentine’s Day last year.
Pat King, co-founder of the Windmill Cinema Supporters Group, which has been instrumental in bringing films back to the venue, said: “It was everything we wanted, to have so many people there.
“When the film started there was a cheer and a clap and that was people saying ‘thank goodness it’s back’.
“That was very reassuring after all the campaigning, because people put their money where their mouth was by saying ‘we really want it back’ and there they were.”
After a packed first night, Saturday’s screening of Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, was also a sell-out.
Marilou Orman, who forms Windmill Cinema Ltd with husband Kevin Orman, which screens the films, said there had been a fantastic response.
She said: “There’s been a great reaction from people.
“People are just happy to see it reopened again.”
The Windmill’s operators have now put together a full programme of films, which features a mixture of mainstream, family and arthouse movies.
The message from The Windmill Cinema Supporters Group is that filmgoers need to continue attending the cinema if they want it to stay.
Pat said the next step for the group was to fight the longer battle against its potential closure in 2016.
Inspire Leisure’s contract to run leisure facilities in Arun, including the Windmill, expires in 2016.
It is feared when that lease expires, the council could sell the Windmill, or the land where it is on, for a different use.
Pat added: “It’s important people keep coming to the Windmill to show it’s viable to run a cinema there.”
For more information, including times and dates for the full programme at the Windmill, phone 01903 722224 or visit the cinema’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/windmillcinema