Visitors to the community cinema in South Norwood could soon be able to watch movies with an alcoholic drink.

Screen25 has been hosting its weekly screenings at Harris Academy South Norwood, in Cumberlow Avenue, since January.

The not-for-profit and volunteer-run cinema had previously been hosting its events at temporary venues, but moved to the secondary school’s multi-functional hall earlier this year due to its large size.

It can hold up to 120 people and is kitted out with an eight-metre-wide projector screen, as well as a surround sound system and snack bar.

But Screen25 has been unable to sell alcohol at its screenings thus far due to the school not having the appropriate licence.

But the Harris Federation, which runs Harris Academy South Norwood, applied for a licence to sell alcohol between midday and 11pm from Monday to Sunday earlier this week.

Volunteers man the snack counter at the new location
Screen 25 volunteers man the snack counter at a screening held at Harris Academy South Norwood (Image: Alex Michell)

The premises licence, submitted to Croydon Council, says: “[A] licence will be required for private hire events, predominantly weekly film screenings which take place in the multifunction hall, seating up to 120 adults.”

It adds: “Alcohol will be served at evening film screenings, plus additional ad hoc events at weekends and during school holidays, and for other private hires as required.”

The application also states there may be live performances at the school to “enhance the cinema-going community experience”, including music, dance, theatre and spoken word.

The venue already plays host to director Q&As, panel discussions and the group’s family film club.

“Live music performances will always be ad hoc and not tied to a regular operating schedule,” the application says.

“Depending on the circumstances and type of performance, music may either be acoustic or amplified through an in-house PA system.

“Occasionally DJs may be booked to provide music at special events.”

Katie Brandwood, the creative director of Screen25, believes the sale of alcohol will “enhance” the atmosphere at the cinema.

She said: “We are working towards adapting a proper cinema set-up and are trying to create that event feel.

“We have been running a bit of an ad hoc bar for some events but it’s here, there and everywhere so we wanted something permanent.

“Now we want people to come and get a drink and relax after work. It creates more of an atmosphere and so people will be more willing to stay afterwards.

“We have been trialling this anyway but we want to have more than films. We want to have panels and Q&As, and having the bar will give people an incentive to stay behind and create that participatory side.”

As well as selling alcohol, the cinema has also improved its selection of snacks and other drinks, with food and coffee being locally sourced.

Screen25 is preparing for its relaunch next week after a short break, and has revealed it will be showing two screenings a week for the first time ever.

The showings will be on every Wednesday and Friday, and currently there is a selection of six films to go and watch, including Lady Bird and Isle of Dogs, with the programme running until the end of October.

“It’s going really well,” Katie said.

“It’s a bit of a weird feeling because we are starting to do two screenings a week and looking at the pre-sale for the next few weeks it is looking good.

“We have been doing weekly screenings since 2016 but now we want to make it a sustainable business, hence why have chosen to now show two films a week.”

For a list of events and films at the cinema, visit www.screen25.com.