Yellow Submarine in Henley

Yellow Submarine at the Regal Picturehouse in Henley-on-Thames.

In 1997, The Regal Picturehouse cinema in Henley-on-Thames opened. Henley is the little town in England George Harrison resided in after the Beatles, where he lived in his mansion in Friar Park. When the cinema opened, the town had been without a cinema for ten years. Supermarket giant Waitrose had wanted to knock down the original cinema, which had stood in Bell Street since 1937, and replace it with a supermarket, but was forced to change its plans following a public outcry.

The campaign to keep a cinema even garnered the support of George and Olivia Harrison, of Friar Park, who joined a protest against the closure in June 1986. The following month the former Beatle stated his concerns in an open letter to the Henley Standard. The Save the Regal Trust was also established in the hope of buying the cinema and re-opening the venue.

Although the activism of the Harrisons and other members of the community was unable to save the old cinema, the strength of public feeling meant a new venue was included in the redevelopment plans. The three-screen Regal was built on part of the site of the original Regal/Odeon cinema which was demolished in 1993 but it was several years before an operator could be found.

George Harrison joined other members of the community in an effort to save the cinema.

The new cinema finally opened its doors on February 26, 1997 with a gala premiere of The Crucible and also screened Jerry Maguire, Mars Attacks! and Matilda during its opening week.

In light of George Harrison’s engagement in trying to keep the cinema open, it’s a delight to notice that The Regal Picturehouse in Henley is one of the cinemas who will be screening the fiftieth anniversary edition of The Beatles full length animated feature “Yellow Submarine” on Sunday, July 8. There will be two shows, one at 11am and one at 6pm, and everyone attending these screenings will also receive an exclusive 50th anniversary commemorative pack, including four stunning limited edition collector’s cards and a Peppertastic sticker set!

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