107 Kingsland High Street,
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Rio Cinema (Official)
Firms: Adams & Coles
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Kingsland Empire, Classic Cinema, Classic Cartoon Cinema, Classic Continental Cinema, Tatler Cinema Club
Located in the (now) trendy east London inner city district of Dalston, and built on the site of the Kingsland Palace of Animated Pictures (a 1909 shop conversion). It was a very grand early silent cinema that opened in 1915 as the 1,000-seat Kingsland Empire, designed by architects Percy C. Adams & George Coles of the architectural firm Adams & Coles, in an elaborate Neo-Classical style.
By 1934 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd chain. It was re-modeled in an Art Deco style by architect Frank Ernest Bromige in 1937 and became the Classic Cinema screening repertory films. Seating was provided for 561 in stalls & circle levels. It was rebranded Classic Cartoon Cinema in 1958, and in 1960 was refurbished to reopen as the Classic Continental Cinema screening foreign language films, before reverting back to the Classic Cinema name and screening classic films in repertory. In 1970 it became the Tatler Cinema Club showing uncensored adult double bills with a live strip-tease burlesque show.
In 1976 a local businessman took it over and re-named it Rio Cinema showing revivals of Elvis Presley movies, Kung-Fu films and Bollywood films. In 1979 the lease was taken over by a co-operative of local residents as a community non-profit cinema. In 1996, it was closed for 18 months for renovation & restoration, which was funded by the National Lottery. The original tiny foyer was enlarged by incorporating a former retail unit and expanding into the rear of the stalls seating area. The seating capacity was reduced to 402, with 188 in the stalls and 214 in the circle.
The programme covers the best of independent cinema, numerous film festivals, pensioners classic matinees, parent & baby screenings and educational screenings for local schools.
In 2017 the Rio Cinema ran a successful fundraising campaign supported by the Mayor of London to restore the exterior to its Art Deco style glory and build a second screen in the large basement space, and this 31-seat screen opened to the public in December 2017.
In March, 2022, in partnership with Oreo biscuits, the Rio Cinema was temporarily re-named “OREO” cinema. The name change was part of a week-long takeover of the Rio Cinema, to celebrate the release of the film “The Batman”. External signage and posters advertising the cinema were changed to match the blue branding of the biscuit brand.
The Rio Cinema became a Grade II Listed building in 1999.
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