LONDON - A central London movie theater known as "the birthplace of British cinema" is on track to reopen after securing a £1.5 million ($2.4 million) lottery fund grant.
The University of Westminster has been planning to restore the Regent Street Cinema after a campaign backed by high-profile industryi people, including Working Title co-chairman Tim Bevan.
The historic cinema is located within the university’s building and played host to the first public cinema performance to a paying U.K. audience in 1896 as the Lumiere brothers showed off their invention then known as the "cinematographe."
The space is currently used as a lecture theater, but plans are afoot to transform it into a state-of-the-art cinema, while also evoking its 19th century heritage.
The restoration was unveiled earlier this year by financial backers for the project the include the Quintin Hogg Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation. With the lottery funding, the group has now met two-thirds of its £6.1 million ($9.8 million) budget target.
Tim Ronalds Architects have designed the look for the restored Regent Street Cinema, which is planned to reopen in 2014.
Sue Bowers, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, said: "This cinema has an important place in the world history of film. Now, with this...grant, the University of Westminster can share this special story not only with film students and academics, but with the wider public too."
Bevan, wearing his hat as chair of the Regent Street Cinema Advisory Board, said: "The investment made in education and training has been an enormous factor in the success of the U.K. film industry, which creatively and technically is a world leader and Westminster continues to be very much part of that. This summer, 2011 Westminster graduate David Winstone won the top prize for his short graduation film For Elsie, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 39th Annual Student Academy Awards, held in Los Angeles."
Professor Geoffrey Petts, vice-chancellor of the University of Westminster, added: “We are going all out to close the gap on the final leg of financing that we need, however, we do not underestimate the challenges of finding that elusive final tranche of funding in today’s tough climate for ambitious projects."