A CINEMA which launched a plan to become community owned is inviting film fanatics to be a part of its history this weekend.

Last week, The Ultimate Picture Palace – Oxford’s oldest and only independent cinema – announced it was up for sale.

From Friday, moviegoers will be able to buy shares in the cinema, as the Jeune Street venue seeks to raise £312,575 in community shares.

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The share offer – coined Lights, Community Action – will raise money to purchase the business for the community, ensuring it remains open and stays independent.

Following the death of the cinema’s last owner, Becky Hallsmith, in 2018, the cinema now has to be sold, and it was Ms Hallsmith’s wish for the iconic venue to become community owned.

Oxford Mail: Customers outside the iconic cinema. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture PalaceCustomers outside the iconic cinema. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture Palace

Looking ahead to a weekend of drop-in sessions and Q&As, the cinema’s programming, marketing and events manager, Tom Jowett, said: “People can come down to the cinema and ask questions about the scheme.

“These kind of situations and opportunities don’t come round too regularly, especially for a cinema and historic venue.

“To be community owned is almost a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“We think Friday will be a huge moment in the cinema’s history – there’s been different owners over the years, but this is an exciting opportunity.”

Oxford Mail: Tom Jowett, programming, marketing and events manager at the cinema. Picture: Ed NixTom Jowett, programming, marketing and events manager at the cinema. Picture: Ed Nix

From 11am to 5pm on Friday, staff and volunteers will be at the cinema to answer questions on the share offer, before a free screening of one of Ms Hallsmith’s favourite films, It Happened One Night, in the evening.

There will be further presentations and Q&As on Saturday, at 11am and 1pm, ahead of a screening of The Terminator later in the day.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian’s film critic, will be present and Mr Jowett said it would be an exciting opportunity for those attending.

He said: “To have a great film critic, one of the best in the county, coming down is really exciting.

“Peter’s been going to cinemas all his life, he understands the importance of the film industry and it being a healthy industry too.”

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Finally, on Sunday, there will be a screening of The Ultimate Survivor, a documentary which tells the story of The Ultimate Picture Palace.

That will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Phil Hind and cinema historian Ian Meyrick.

Mr Jowett said: “We’ll get a really interesting take on the history and legacy of the cinema.

“To understand the future, you’ve got to understand the past, and I’m sure they’ll be able to give a real insight.

“If anybody is curious, and we’ve been getting enquiries since last week, then people can come and get their questions answered.”

For more on the events, visit: uppcinema.com/launch-weekend/

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