It’s official: Walthamstow is getting its only cinema back

Can you believe that Walthamstow has been without a cinema for nearly an entire year? Since the collapse of Empire cinemas back in July 2023, ‘Stow’s been terrifyingly kino-free, the northeast London suburb’s residents left to traipse all the way to Stratford, Hackney or Finsbury Park for movies on the big screen.

If you’re a ‘Stow resident who’s been sorely missing the area’s beloved Empire cinema on Walthamstow High Street, now we have excellent news: it’s set to reopen. The cinema, which is owned by Waltham Forest Council, will reopen as Forest Cinemas and be run by independent operator PDJ Cinemas.

PDJ currently runs four cinemas spread throughout the UK. The family-run chain’s small roster local cineplexes currently includes Worthing’s seaside Edwardian Dome Cinema, the Island Cinema in Lytham (near Blackpool), King’s Lynn’s 1920s Majestic Cinema and Premiere Cinemas in Romford.

PDJ has a 25-year lease to run Walthamstow’s old Empire. It has plans for the cinema’s first-ever bar, plus a VIP lounge area decorated with tributes to Alfred Hitchcock, who was born in nearby Leytonstone and began his career at Walthamstow film studios. PDJ will also have to replace a lot of the old Empire’s screens and equipment, much of which was damaged during an illegal rave last September.

Local councillor Grace Williams said: ‘I am thrilled that we have been able to secure such a great new operator for the former Empire so quickly. PDJ has exciting plans for Forest Cinemas – I know our residents can’t wait to see the big screen back in our borough once again.’

The old Empire will reopen as Forest Cinemas and is apparently aiming for a summer 2024 reopening date. Watch this space for updates!

Time Out and London’s cinemas

Can’t wait ’til summer for Walthamstow to get its cinema back? Here is Time Out’s ultimate list of London’s best cinemas, plus the best ones for a date and the capital’s cheapest cinemas.

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