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Curzon Mayfair: ‘This is no flippant PR game, an iconic cinema is still at risk’

Curzon Mayfair (Curzon Mayfair)
Curzon Mayfair (Curzon Mayfair)

The Curzon Mayfair is not just an important and beautiful building — it is a cultural generator without which the social health of central London would be significantly compromised.

These are not my words but those of Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton, a patron of the cinema. She elegantly sums up what Curzon Mayfair means to so many people — of all ages and backgrounds.

Yet, we face a fight to remain as operators of this iconic cinema because of the landlord’s refusal to renew our lease. The “Save Curzon Mayfair” campaign has touched a nerve in the local community with 20,400 people signing a petition to ensure the cinema remains under Curzon’s stewardship.

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Curzon Mayfair has an illustrious history dating back to 1934. We have successfully evolved over the decades to ensure we are as relevant today as when we first opened our doors.

From showing Academy Award-nominated French film La Ronde in the early Fifties to more than half a million people, to the recent blockbuster Oppenheimer, which gave Curzon Mayfair its best ever weekend, we continue to offer something for everyone.

At the heart of our success is a team with decades of experience and expertise in the industry. We proudly offer a diverse film menu to suit many tastes. When we hosted Steven Spielberg for the premiere of his latest film, he spoke of his “fond memories” of Curzon Mayfair, but they are not just memories.

In the past 12 months, almost 70% of films shown were international, independent or arthouse. Recent successes include Aftersun, All Quiet On The Western Front and Triangle of Sadness.

The unique character of Curzon Mayfair and our other nine London cinemas is anathema to the anonymous chains. Each one has a bespoke design and site-specific curation, while also offering high-end food and drink.

Post-Covid we have bucked the industry trend with a major investment programme, including new cinemas in Camden, Kingston, Hoxton and Canterbury and refurbished screens at Soho.

We are proud that Curzon Mayfair is a focal point for the community while remaining a prime location for red-carpet events and premieres. Our two screens are housed in a Grade II listed building designed in 1966 as a livelier and more bespoke replacement of the earlier 1934 cinema. With listed wall reliefs by sculptor William Mitchell and a stunning Op Art-inspired ceiling, Curzon Mayfair has been praised by Historic England as “the finest surviving cinema building of the post-war period…”

To keep evolving, we have bold plans to refurbish the cinema, partnering with world- renowned Benedetti Architects, who designed the new BAFTA HQ. The plans include the latest audiovisual screen technology and improved acoustic and lighting, along with luxury seating and a new food and drinks offering. Our proposals would protect and restore the historic features, while retaining the two screens and seating capacity of 373, meaning the cinema would continue to be open to the community with competitive ticket prices.

Sadly, we have hit a wall with the landlord who has blocked our plans at every turn and relaunched his own alternative proposals, which are eerily like our original vision for Curzon Mayfair.

Perhaps “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but this is no flippant PR game, the future of Curzon Mayfair remains in a precarious position.

With the backing of the local community we will keep making the compelling case to keep the doors open at this wonderful institution for decades to come. As one of our other patrons, actor Toby Jones, said, “the Curzon has been more than just another cinema... it’s been a kind of club to which anyone can belong”. Only under our stewardship will this continue to be the case.