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Woodville Halls in Gravesend set to become fully-fledged cinema with £100,000 investment by Gravesham council

Hollywood director Paul Greengrass announced Gravesham movie fans could look forward to enjoying more blockbusters on their doorstep.

The Paul Greengrass Cinema in The Woodville, Gravesend, will go under impressive changes funded by a £100,000 investment by Gravesham council.

Film enthusiasts in the town will now be able to enjoy the latest films without the wait.

Paul Greengrass at the Woodville on Tuesday

The improved facility will be equipped to show 3D films with Dolby surround sound.

The Bourne Supremacy director and former Gravesend Grammar School pupil visited the cinema for an event on Tuesday night where people could enjoy a screening of his Oscar-nominated film, Captain Phillips.

There was also the chance to listen to Mr Greengrass answer questions, chosen at random in a draw before the event.

Speaking exclusively to Kent Online, Mr Greengrass spoke of the importance of a cinema to the community before announcing the council’s plans to revamp Gravesend ‘s only picture-house.

He said: “The movies are one of the most important cultural experiences and bring the community together.

“It’s vital I think, particularly for elderly people to come to the cinema, it’s very important."

On the new cinema, which have 7.1 surround sound, he said: “It’s going to be really great. The new screen is going to be three times the present size and the new sound system will give a true cinema experience.”

The filmmaker also spoke of his earliest cinematic experiences in the town, although he couldn’t remember which one of our cinemas he visited first.

He said: “I can remember coming to the cinema a lot and I can remember seeing Sound of Music here.”

The Paul Greengrass Cinema will be revamped in June with a digital projector capable of showing live broadcasts, live streams from The National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera House and beyond, a bigger screen capable of showing 3D films and a dedicated Dolby 7.1 sound system.

The council-run Woodville complex plans to feature these live events in the programming from Autumn 2014.

In his question and answer session Mr Greengrass discussed a number of topics including his favourite film, his latest picture Captain Phillips and important moments his career to date.

He also gave advice to young aspiring filmmakers on how to get in to the industry.

The director spoke fondly of his hometown and said: “It’s lovely to be back. It’s got a lot of spirit, Gravesend.”

The council funding will allow the cinema, which opened in January last year with the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, to show films from Monday to Friday and with live shows on the weekends.

Gravesend has previously boasted three cinemas, the Majestic in King Street and the Regal and the Super both in New Road, all of which have closed.

Since the Majestic closed in 2002, solely distributing Bollywood films at the time, the town has been bereft of a regular cinematic experience.

“The point is that no commercial organisation can put in a cinema in Gravesend. We’ve shown that it works in the area, we have done it to date and proved that it works."

Crowds visiting the Greengrass, which opened last year, have to wait up to six weeks to view the hottest releases.

However, Gravesend cinema goers will now be able to watch films at the time of their release just like they can at the nearest other venues like Showcase Cinema at Bluewater Shopping Centre in Greenhithe or Cineworld Cinemas in Strood.

The Greengrass will still only have one screen and therefore will have to be more selective of the films it chooses to screen.

As well as films, the picture-house also hopes to showcase events such as operas and even matches from this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

A council spokesman said: “This is really exciting news.

“The public have told us this is what Gravesend wants.

“The point is that no commercial organisation can put in a cinema in Gravesend. We’ve shown that it works in the area, we have done it to date and proved that it works.

“The audiences have not been vast but it’s been viable.

“We expect the audiences to increase if we’re able to show first run movies close to their release.

“There will be top movies at this cinema.”

The Woodville Halls

The new cinema will begin in July.

Financing for the operation of the cinema will come from advertising and sponsorship.

Ticket prices will remain affordable with the popular 11am screening staying at £3 and the Saturday morning children’s club tickets pegged at £2.50.

Main showings will be between £5.50 and £7.50. Live events will be £10.

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