David Puttnam opens Chiswick Cinema

Images above: David Puttnam; Screen One; LondonsDJ.UK violinist

Film producer David Puttnam opened the Chiswick Cinema on Thursday 24 June. The award winning film maker, who made Chariots of Fire, The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Midnight Express and Memphis Belle, is now a member of the House of Lords, where he chairs the Select Committee on democracy and digital technologies.

Lord Puttnam, now 80, told the audience he remembered when the very first multiplex cinema was opened in Milton Keynes, in 1985. He was warned not to lend his name to such a risky project as it was bound to be a flop, but it quickly became the biggest grossing cinema in the whole of the UK.

He also recalled the early days of market research in the film industry when he spent many hours “hanging around Shaftesbury Avenue” on a Friday night, waiting for the last of the paying cinema goers to pay for their tickets before buying up any that were unsold so the cinema would report the film ‘sold out’. That ensured his film would be booked again for the following week.

His love affair with film started as a child, he told the audience, when at the age of seven he went to see Walt Disney’s Pinocchio and came out humming When You Wish Upon A Star.

“That should be the theme song for the film industry” he said, because “every time you make a film that is exactly what you’re doing”.

Films capture the emotions of audiences in a different way to theatre or television, he said.

“With a good film, in the first few scenes we spot something that reminds us of us or of someone we know and from that point on it becomes our story, not the film’s.”

That is unique to the medium of film, he said.

In The Heights

He introduced In The Heights, a musical set in New York’s Washington Heights neighbourhood by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the smash hit Hamilton. A great choice, because it’s a film you absolutely have to see on a big screen.

It’s not the kind of musical where there are scenes of dialogue and they suddenly burst into song. Like Hamilton, the whole thing is sung – and danced, the characters are rarely still – with just a few short bits of spoken dialogue in between amazingly choreographed mass dancing. A fantastic, colourful, uplifting, feelgood movie with lots of big dance numbers, including a nod to Busby Berkeley – just the thing to set the tone for the new cinema Chiswick has been looking forward visiting to for so long.

Images above: Greg Dyke; Dame Rosemary Squire

“Live cinema will continue to thrive in the post pandemic era”

Chiswick Cinema is part of Trafalgar Entertainment, set up in 2017 to bring together theatre production, the live broadcast of productions and training. Trafalgar is home to Trafalgar Studios, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Trafalgar Releasing (formerly Picturehouse Entertainment) and Stagecoach Performing Arts.

The production arm of the company, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, produce new shows and classic musicals in London and internationally including the Lincoln Center’s award-winning production of The King and I, at the London Palladium and now worldwide: The Rocky Horror Show and at Trafalgar Studios: Peter Nichols’ A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

Trafalgar Entertainment was set up by Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire, who created and developed the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd over 25 years, making it a premier international theatre owner and prolific, successful global producer. The groupls 38 theatres include Richmond theatre and the Duke of York, Fortune, Harold Pinter, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Savoy and the Trafalgar theatres in the West End.

Dame Rosemary and Trafalgar Entertainment’s chairman Greg Dyke made the opening remarks.

“Live cinema will continue to thrive in the post pandemic era” said Greg Dyke, “assuming the Government lets the audiences back in”.

Chiswick Cinema is now open to the public. You don’t have to be member. Films currently showing are: In The Heights (PG), Supernova (15), F9: The Fast Saga (12A), Michael Ball & Alfie Boe: Back Together (PG), Preview: Last Man Standing with recorded Q&A (18), The Father (12A).

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