Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Pair offer town new open-air cinema

A NEW open-air cinema has been launched in Watlington.

The Paddock Picturehouse holds screenings every month and has so far shown Eighties hits The Goonies and The Lost Boys. The next one will be Back to the Future on September 16.

The cinema evenings are held in The Paddock, which is behind the parish council offices.

The venture was set up by Richard Cheal, 42, from Shirburn, and his business partner Jon Wallhouse.

Mr Cheal, who works in special effects in the film industry, said: “We have only just started. We did our first showing in June and it was just to test the water really.

“We wanted to kick off with a family picture and see what crowds came along. It’s mainly people based in Watlington at the moment.

“The Paddock holds about 200 people and we illuminate it with hanging lanterns to make it as cosy as possible, a family experience.

“There was a good turnout for The Goonies and I think people appreciated that we were doing something for the community.

“There’s no cinema near us but there is a very strong community spirit.”

Mr Cheal began his career in the industry in 1994, working on the James Bond film Goldeneye, which starred Pierce Brosnan as 007.

Since then he has worked on the Harry Potter films and all the James Bond films starring Daniel Craig.

He also worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is currently working on the latest film in the series, The Last Jedi.

“The whole movie thing is a massive passion for me — I live and breathe it,” said Mr Cheal. “Even as a child going to the pictures was a real treat.”

Food and drink at the open-air cinema is provided by his friends Steve and Vicki Wood, who run The Social restaurant and bar in the Watlington Club.

Mr Wallhouse designs the posters promoting the evenings and tries to recreate the originals as closely as possible.

Mr Cheal added: “We open the doors at about 7pm so people can come along and maybe have a bite to eat and a drink, grab a hay bale and listen to music and when it gets dark we play the film.”

A percentage of the ticket sales are given to community organisations. The beneficiaries so far have the 2nd Watlington scouts and Watlington Primary School’s parent teacher association

Mr Cheal said: “Maybe next year, with a bit of better planning, we’ll look at different venues but we’d like to keep it in Watlington.”

He hopes to host a special Halloween screening and a family film at Christmas.

Tickets costs £10 for adults and £5 for children.

For more information or to book tickets, visit https://

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