Edinburgh Filmhouse: Lease deal agreed to save cinema

Members of Filmhouse Edinburgh Team: Rod White, Ginnie Atkinson and James Rice
Founders of the Filmhouse Edinburgh charity - James Rice, Ginnie Atkinson and Rod White -have launched a fundraising campaign to secure the reopening of the cinema

A deal has been agreed which may see the return of the Filmhouse in Edinburgh.

The cinema in Lothian Road closed in October 2022 after its parent company went into administration.

About 100 jobs were lost and the B-listed building was then sold by administrators for £2.65m in April this year.

The new owners have agreed a lease with a charity which is aiming to open the cinema once again as an independent venue for film.

Another independent in Aberdeen, which was operated by the same parent company, may also reopen after the council backed a bid to run it as a community facility.

Belmont Community Cinema will now have raise funds, but the group has been awarded operator bidder status and hopes to reopen next summer.

Film Festival

The Filmhouse was the home of the Edinburgh International Film festival.

It was known for presenting one of the most ambitious and diverse cinema programmes in the UK.

When parent company The Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), which also owned the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen, ceased trading last October, the building was bought by Caledonian Heritable who own other businesses in Edinburgh including the Dome, Ryan's Bar and the Theatre Royal.

They have now agreed a six-month lease with the Filmhouse charity to enable it to fundraise and reopen.

After that, the cinema will then enter a 21-year lease with plans to operate independently as a cinema with a café bar to support it.

Caledonian Heritable have started a programme of upgrades to the fabric of the building and will gift all projection equipment to the new Filmhouse, including the customised analogue 35mm and 70mm projectors.

The charity hopes to raise £1.25m initially and to open the doors once more in 2024.

The charity was formed in December 2022 by four former Filmhouse colleagues - former programme manager James Rice, Rod White, the former head of programming, previous technical head David Boyd, and Ginnie Atkinson, the former CEO of Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival until 2010.

Screen Scotland has awarded the charity £60,000 to support its planning and development work.

The Edinburgh Filmhouse
The Edinburgh Filmhouse was closed after administrators were called in last October

Ginnie Atkinson said: "This is a significant step on the journey towards restoring cultural cinema provision for the city. Filmhouse is more than just a cinema - it's a home for cinema lovers and for film festivals and is proud of its track record in the area of film education, which would continue.

"We are delighted to be able to launch the fundraising campaign with the goal of opening the doors to a newly refurbished cinema building in 2024."

James Rice said, "The building is in an ideal city centre location and is well configured, but is currently in a run-down condition.

"We want to improve and modernise the whole experience of visiting Filmhouse so it can survive and thrive into the future and we need the support of everyone who wants the same thing."

A Caledonian Heritable spokesperson said: "Caledonian Heritable have a long-standing appreciation of the vital importance of culture and the arts to the city of Edinburgh.

"We are pleased to be working with Filmhouse, Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council in anticipation of a new era at this key cultural venue."