THE group behind a new cinema planned for Stourbridge has revealed more details about the project that will bring a movie theatre back to the town for the first time since the 1980s.

Film-maker and founder of Birmingham’s Mockingbird Cinema and Kidderminster’s Lume Cinema, James Anderson Brown, is the man behind the West Midlands Community Cinema and Art Spaces not-for-profit CIC which has been granted permission to transform an empty unit in The Ryemarket shopping centre.

The plan, approved by Dudley Council’s planning committee on March 14, will see the old Chicago’s/Soda Lounge nightclub – where 24-year-old Ryan Passey was fatally stabbed - turned into a two-screen boutique cinema.

The project has been given the thumbs up from Ryan’s family who have wanted the empty unit to be used for the good of the community ever since the tragedy happened in August 2017.

James, from Stourbridge, said: “This project started nearly two years ago, it has been a long time in the making and we are nearly there.

“At every stage we have been in contact with Ryan Passey representatives to ensure that they were happy and had no objections to our proposals.

“I am from Stourbridge and I felt this was vitally important, what happened at the venue is an absolute tragedy, we wanted our proposals to be fitting to the memory of Ryan.

“This is a community project, we hope that everyone will get behind us. It is going to be a huge task in making this work long term.”

The vision is to create a two-screen boutique cinema with one screen downstairs and one upstairs – where movie fans could watch a film and order dinner at the same time. It is hoped the venue will also be used as a hub for community groups.

James said: “This will be a venue for everyone, that will serve the community for all its needs and hopefully assist in making the High Street more vibrant in the coming years. One thing I have learned over the last 10 years acting as a cinema exhibition consultant is that cinema brings people together, there is a film, documentary, short film, animation for all walks of life.”

The family of Ryan Passey have given the thumbs up to the cinema plan and Jason Connon, spokesperson for the Justice for Ryan campaign, said: “We are supportive that this will hopefully generate new jobs and also provide a hub for local community causes.

“Ryan’s family have always said they did not want to see the building used as any form of club again, i.e. DJs, live music, heavily promoted drinks promotions etc and, although we haven’t seen the final plans, we remain supportive of James and hope his new venture is a success.”

James, who is director of the cult film festival Cine-Excess, which recently brought Pam Grier of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown to Birmingham for a special Q&A, said the venue will screen a mix of new releases and classic films and live and event cinema.

He also hopes to attract local film-makers and creatives to use the venue too.

He added: “We hope to gain the support of the local community and make the venue something Stourbridge can be proud of.”