The operators of the Curzon Mayfair cinema have scheduled a programme of “greatest hits” including La Dolce Vita and Howards End through the autumn ahead of a key planning meeting that will decide its future.
Curzon said the special screenings of six of the most popular movies it has shown in its 89-year history will highlight how it has served generations of London audiences over many decades.
The schedule starts on September 10 with the 1950 classic La Ronde, about a series of amorous encounters. It was seen by more than 540,000 people at Curzon Mayfair from April 1951 to October 1952.
The “Save Curzon Mayfair Film Series” comes amid a high-profile legal and planning battle over one of central London’s last art house cinemas.
Curzon’s lease on the Grade II listed building expires next year. The landlords, 38 Curzon Lease Ltd, have said it will not be renewed and has instead drawn up its own £15million “cinema-led” refurbishment plans.
But Curzon has its own scheme to return the picture house to its “former glory” with new screen technology.
Campaigners insist the landlords’ proposal, which includes reducing the current two screens to one, will result in fewer seats and higher ticket prices. The two sides are locked in a legal dispute about extending the lease, while the landlords’ plans are expected to go before a meeting of Westminster council’s planning committee later this year.
Cinema CEO Philip Knatchbull said: “Going back to 1934, Curzon Mayfair has championed a diversity of brilliant films from La Ronde to Howards End and Parasite.
“Going to the cinema is not just about watching the latest blockbuster, it’s about giving audiences the opportunity to experience a range of film genres and making them culturally richer.
“This is at the heart of everything we do... we will be hosting a series of screenings showcasing some of the films that have delighted audiences over the decades.”
A series of films selected by the campaign’s celebrity supporters is also being planned. Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and actors Toby Jones and Tilda Swinton have backed the campaign and 27,000 people have signed a petition in support.
La Ronde will be followed by La Dolce Vita, Solaris, Au Revoir les Enfants and romantic drama Howards End.
The cinema, rebuilt in 1966, has been praised by Historic England as “the finest surviving cinema building of the post-war period”.