This dearly loved bastion of foreign-language cinema has seen many changes over its relatively short life. Originally named the Bloomsbury Cinema, this arthouse cinema was the first and only British venture of the American-based Walter Reade Organisation who aimed to capitalise on custom from local university students. Opening in January 1972 with Michael Cacoyannis'
The Trojan Women, the cinema consisted of a single screen with 490 pedastal-style seats, located in a basement in the newly-built Brunswick Square development.
Despite offering free coffee, the Bloomsbury Cinema was taken over by EMI, reopened in May 1974 as the ABC Bloomsbury and eventually renamed the EMI International Film Theatre in January 1977, with a programming policy of off-beat foreign films. After only a year, the cinema was rented to Barbara and David Stone's Cinegate which operated the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill Gate. Renamed the Gate 2, it opened in February 1978 with Derek Jarman's
Jubilee. Shortly after, the auditorium was split down the middle to create two mirror-image screens seating 266 each, called Gate Bloomsbury 1 and 2 respectively.
After a short period of closure and a refurbishment by architects Burrell Foley Associates, it re-opened under the management of Artificial Eye, and on Friday 9 May 1986, it was renamed the Renoir Cinema. On the opening day, Agnes Varda's
Vagabond played in Screen One, whilst Peter Smith's
No Surrender filled the other.
Showing first runs of Artificial Eye's titles, the cinema became a solid success. Following the impressive development of the surrounding Brunswick Centre, a recent refurbishment in 2006, followed by the union with Curzon Cinemas, Renoir has been given a renewed lease of life.
Following a special screening of Jean Renoir's
Boudu Saved from Drowning on 1 June 2014, the Renoir Cinema closed for refurbishment which will see it re-open as a six-screen Curzon Bloomsbury cinema in early December 2014 - please
click here to find out more.