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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 14:09 GMT
Threat to historic London cinema
By Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Coronet cinema, Notting Hill
The Coronet was opened as a theatre in 1898
The future of an historic London cinema that has hosted visitors from King Edward VII to Hugh Grant is in doubt.

The owners of the Coronet in Notting Hill have accepted an offer to sell the 105-year-old building, saying it does not make enough money as a cinema.

There are fears that the cinema, which was a theatre for the first 18 years of its life, could now be closed.

The council has turned down a plea from members of the local film community to buy the venue to safeguard its future.

Regarded as one of the finest theatres outside the West End when it opened, stars like Sarah Bernhardt, Basil Rathbone and Lily Langtry trod the boards in its theatre days and Edward VII was reputed to be a visitor.

Hugh Grant
The cinema was used in Hugh Grant's 1999 film Notting Hill
In 1901, WB Yeats wrote that it housed "the only good scenery I ever saw", and Sir John Gielgud is thought to have seen his first Shakespeare play there.

It was converted when the cinema age dawned, and has seen off threats of being turned into a McDonald's and a shopping centre in the last 35 years.

Most recently, it is known for being used as a location where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts filmed the movie Notting Hill.

It is now a listed building, and the offer accepted by its current owners is to keep its "theatre-style" layout to avoid planning delays.

We will fight any efforts to take it away from being a cinema through any democratic means we can
Julian Ozanne
Local film producer
Simon Riggall, of property company Colliers CRE, who is managing the sale, would not give details of the bidder.

But it is not known whether the bidders want to use it as a theatre or cinema, or something different like a church.

A campaign to keep it as an independent cinema has been mounted by local residents and Notting Hill's film community, led by producer Julian Ozanne, fiancÚ of former X-Files actress Gillian Anderson.

Many in the British movie industry - including local directors Stephen Frears and Nicolas Roeg, and actors Tom Hollander and Joseph Fiennes - supported the campaign, he told BBC News Online.

Property value

"We continue to believe that it should be maintained as a cinema, and will fight any efforts to take it away from being a cinema through any democratic means we can," he said.

Mr Ozanne wants Kensington and Chelsea council to intervene to preserve its historic use - but they have refused to make a compulsory purchase, he added.

"Many independent cinemas in London have closed in the past decade and others are under threat because cinemas can't compete with the value of property if they were turned into other uses.

"We believe this a town planning matter and that the council must intervene to protect buildings which promote the diversity of our culture and meet the needs of the local community."

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