Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 16:36 UK

Thousands join bid to save cinema

Bognor Picturedrome
The Picturedrome's yearly rent has more than doubled to 45,000

More than 6,000 supporters have backed a campaign to stop the closure of a historic cinema in West Sussex.

The Picturedrome Cinema in Bognor Regis, which opened in 1919, faces possible closure after its yearly rent was increased from £16,000 to £45,000.

Friends of the cinema have signed a petition and joined a social networking site.

Managing director Adam Cunard said the venue was an essential part of Bognor but the rent increase was too high.

The Picturedrome, which recently increased its screenings to three per day to boost revenue, is housed in Bognor's old assembly room building that was constructed in 1886.

'Step too far'

The cinema's manager Chris Allsopp said he was happy with the good turnout at the new screenings.

"If our audiences keep going at that size, we will keep the cinema open every afternoon," he said.

Mr Cunard said the cinema had been a part of Bognor for many years but had "suffered hugely" when a multiplex opened in Chichester in 2001 and was now "losing a fortune".

He said by restoring the building, dropping prices and getting the films people wanted to see, they had managed to turn its fortunes around.

"The public love the building, it is supported by the town and it is a beautiful looking building," he added.

But he warned that the current rent increase could be "a step too far, and a final nail in the coffin" for the venue.

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