The dilapidated Castle Cinema venue

Dilapidated: the old cinema, which closed in 1958. Photograph: Dusashenka

The opening credits are set to roll at Castle Cinema for the first time in more than 50 years after the new owners signed a lease for the Hackney venue.

Pillow Cinema smashed its crowdfunding target as 667 people helped raise £57,000 for the relaunch.

The 60-seat Castle Electric Theatre on Chatsworth Road shut its doors in 1958, but the new owners hope to throw them open again in November.

It will be Hackney’s second independent cinema, and the plan is for the single-screen venue to show both arthouse films and blockbusters, as well as hosting festivals and community events.

Pillow Cinema's Asher Charman and Danielle Swift

Excited: new owners Asher Charman and Danielle Swift. Photograph: Pillow Cinema

Asher Charman, who runs Pillow Cinema with business partner Danielle Swift, is expecting a “very busy” couple of months.

He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the lease is done and dusted. Now we can get on with the practicalities of opening a cinema.

“The next step is implementing all the plans we’ve been working on – getting the building work done, buying the seats, making sure all the equipment is installed.

“Up to now, there has been a lot of ideas and paperwork, but it is about to get very active! We’re aiming for a November launch, but we’ll have a better idea of the exact date in the coming weeks.”

Charman and Swift have been running pop-up film events for nearly five years, including open-air screenings in Hackney with hot tubs for the audience. But Castle Cinema will be the duo’s first permanent venue.

One of the crowdfunding rewards, for anyone who donated £5,000, was to become the “lion face” for a year in the famous MGM sequence that goes out before every film.

When asked who it will be, Charman added: “At the moment, all I know is that it is a lady, which is great. We’re very much looking forward to working with her to produce our homage to the MGM roar.”

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak has meant that the Hackney Citizen has been unable to print a monthly newspaper for the last three months.

The need for quality news and reliable reporting is crucial - however, this is an increasingly challenging time for local journalism.

Our main source of income, print advertising revenue, fell suddenly - and so we are asking you, the readers, for your help.A one-off donation from anyone who can afford it will help our small team get our newspaper back in print and keep the website and social media feeds running through this unprecedented crisis.

Find out how you can donate.

Thanks in advance for your support, and stay safe.