Curzon, Kingston’s long awaited boutique cinema, which opened on Friday 11 November, continues the legacy of the town’s forgotten heritage: it commemorates the work of Kingston’s cinema innovators, whilst being pioneering in its own right. 

Curzon have struck the right balance. They have successfully brought a unique cinema experience to its customers - one which includes recliner seats, in-screen service and a screenings of both major blockbusters and independent arts films; at the same time, they have paid ‘homage’ to the trailblazers before them (in the words of Francesco Sala, Assistant Manager at Curzon, Kingston), by naming each screen after local cinemas from the early 20th Century, and recognising the discoveries of Eadweard Muybridge, an innovating motion-photographer based in Kingston. In doing so, the town’s cinema heritage has been revitalised. 

Key to Curzon’s distinctive nature is its film listings. Unlike multiplexes, Curzon ‘prioritise art films - not just blockbusters’. These films (which include foreign language films) are hard to find elsewhere, but are ‘remarkable’ and ‘intense’ (as Francesco explained), and add, therefore, to the cinema’s remarkable charm. 
However, whilst this is a feature of all Curzon cinemas, Kingston is just Curzon’s second cinema to provide in-screen food and drink service, as well as recliner seating and a pizza restaurant (the first being Curzon’s cinema on Canterbury Riverside). This, coupled with its elegant decoration of smart, red sofas, deep blue paintwork and gold furnishings, makes the Kingston Curzon experience truly distinctive and boutique. Indeed, a bar will be opened on the Bentalls’ rooftop in Spring 2023, with Curzon considering the possibility of a DJ set, or live gigs, or even another cinema screen up there too. 

Francesco noted how these pioneering features were a direct outcome of the pandemic, after which the public wanted services (in this case cinema viewings and food & drink) to be ‘concentrat[ed] in one place’. By listening to customer demand so intently when designing the cinema, Curzon have ensured that its new cinema has progressed in line with public expectations. This suggests that this cinema may become a model for future cinema. 
But Curzon, Kingston has not only revitalised the industry, but also the town’s cinematic heritage - a factor that is at the heart of the cinema’s appeal. Each of the four screens are named after local cinemas from the early 20th Century: the Palace (the name of Kingston’s first cinema, which opened in 1909), the Century (which opened in 1920), the Electric (the name of a church hall, converted into a cinema), and the Coliseum (which opened in 1913). Although each of these are now closed, Francesco explained that this new Curzon cinema seeks to keep their ‘legacy’ and ‘memory still alive’. Likewise, the lobby is adorned with an exhibition of Eadweard Muybridge’s photography. Based in Kingston, Muybridge (1830-1904) began to bridge the gap between photography and cinema by innovating with his use of stop motion. Without his efforts, the birth of cinema would have come far ‘later otherwise’. This modern cinema pays due respect to his discoveries. 

That said, the cinema has been a long time in the making, due to the pandemic. It was announced in 2017 that a Curzon cinema would be based there - it opened five years later, in November 2022. However, public expectation has been building in that time and, since its opening on Friday, the public has been ‘very happy’ (as Francesco has noticed). Even on a Monday lunchtime, the lobby area was busy with customers, many of whom seemed intrigued by the new experience the cinema offered. Indeed, most of them were making full use of its unique aspects, such as the in-screen service and the arts films screenings. The screening of ‘Living’, for example, although not considered a major blockbuster, was completely full, Francesco stated. 

Therefore, by introducing a unique cinema experience that also fulfils customers’ post-pandemic wishes and coupling this with the celebration of prior cinema breakthroughs, Curzon, Kingston has secured itself a chapter in Kingston’s cinema history.