CAMPAIGNERS still fighting to save the two former cinemas on Bournemouth’s Westover Road have backed an art house chain in its aim to open in the town.

Both the Odeon and ABC cinemas closed earlier this year and are now owned by a property developer.

They were shut to make way for the 10-screen Odeon multiplex in the BH2 development off the Square.

But the Daily Echo revealed earlier this month that the Curzon cinema chain is interested in opening in Bournemouth – possibly in one of the grand former cinemas.

Its interest has pleased Marcus Hughes, who set up the Save Bournemouth Odeon campaign – now renamed Save Bournemouth Regent Theatre after the venue’s original 1937 name.

He is hopeful of getting around the restrictive covenant Odeon placed on the building, which owner Libra Homes says would prevent it being used as a cinema.

He said: “An art house cinema theatre will offer Bournemouth something very different to a multiplex, and therefore not be in direct competition.

“In fact, an art house cinema theatre will show independent films that Odeon simply do not show. Plus, there will be the availability of auditorium hire to drama and performing arts groups.”

He pointed out that the former Whiteladies Picture House in Bristol had a similar covenant attached to it but was now operating as an Everyman cinema.

“There are good examples of multiplexes trading in close proximity to art house cinemas successfully. Understandably, patrons want different things from cinema at different times.

“Bournemouth has long wanted an art house cinema theatre to bridge that culture gap. The public has spoken and it's now time to act.

“We still have over 3,000 supporters from many walks of life, and many of them are under 30 years of age. It just shows how much the younger generation love heritage.

“There have been research studies undertaken that have shown that engagement with heritage, arts, and cinema can provide health benefits.”

The Westover Road Odeon was opened in 1929 at the Regent and was known as the Gaumont for much of its life. The ABC was originally the Westover Super Cinema, opened in 1937, and was the last high street cinema to bear the ABC brand name.

Two applications to demolish most of the Odeon building, leaving its facade fronting a new block of shops and flats, have been rejected by Bournemouth council. A scheme for the ABC is awaiting a decision.