The Story

The Rex has one huge screen set in a glorious 1938 art-deco proscenium with the sharpest film projection and clearest non-booming sound anywhere in the world. Throughout, its seating is big and soft. It has been called luxurious. It is better. It is civilized. It reminds us of what we have long stopped expecting from public buildings.

There is a good wine list with snacks on clean plates. We are open 362 days a year with a new (ie different) title most days and nights. Only the block-b’s run longer, by demand. More often the small, little known films from across the world, return by demand to full houses over a sustained period.

The Rex opened with ‘Heidi’ starring Shirley Temple on 9th May 1938 to full civic applause. Due to progress and the received wisdom of the time – home videos and voracious multiplexes were it. Small single screen cinemas were dead and gone. Hence The Rex closed down on 28th February 1988.

It reopened as it is now on 5th December 2004. Far from dead, it sells out almost every night, whatever the film. In the early seventies the balcony/circle was boxed-off by a central partition to create two screens in the upper circle. The huge proscenium arch surrounding one of the biggest screens in the UK was closed and turned over to bingo. It would be 30 years before a film would be projected once again on to that (albeit brand new curved and tilted) main screen. It is true that during the Rex’s two-screens bingo years, in an intimate moment in the picture you were watching, you could hear the film next door and the bingo being called downstairs all at the same time.

After many years of words and games, politics, long negotiations and chasing restoration money, the dream came true.