Historic Isle of Wight building, The Rivoli Cinema, in Sandown. Picture by Robin Crossley.
A CAMPAIGN to save the 1920s’ Rivoli Cinema, Sandown, has been launched by the organiser of the Isle of Wight Film Festival.
The rescue bid, by Bruce Webb, requires £250,000 to be raised in just 60 days.
The film and TV writer is even selling his property in Sandown to raise funds.
If the money isn’t raised, the owner will press on with plans to demolish the 19th century building, after 18 months on the market.
Mr Webb said: "The cinema came up for sale last year and I finally got to see inside and I was gobsmacked. It was like finding a rare, old classic car in a barn."
The current owner, Tony Wright, of Costume Workshop, has had the building for around 20 years. But high business rates and expensive heating costs forced him to move his business to Shanklin last week.
He said: "We have accepted a substantially lower offer than the land value from Mr Webb. So we are not greedy developers, we just want to get rid of it."
In the meantime, Mr Wright has submitted an application to demolish the building to make space for housing.
He said: "It would nice to see it restored but if it isn’t, it will be clear the town doesn’t want the building. We cannot afford to keep it. We will get rates relief for six months but after that we will be paying for an empty building."
The cinema was originally an Oddfellows Hall, built in 1887.
Mr Wright insists it is not an art deco building, as has been suggested, but has an art deco facade.
If Mr Webb raises the money, he plans to show modern blockbusters alongside art house films.
He said: "There is nothing to do in Sandown at night, other than drink. There are no comedy nights or theatre, this will provide something to do. It will also mean youngsters can go to the cinema in their town, rather than have to use public transport.
"Cinemas should be in our towns, not on parking lots in the middle of nowhere."
To find out more about the campaign and how to support it, click here.