U.K.'s La Charrette closes after 50 years

One of Blighty’s tiniest cinemas was to get a starry sendoff.

La Charrette, a 23-seat cinema in a garden in Gorseinon near Swansea, shuttered its doors after the world preem of “Alien Love Triangle” from Brit helmer Danny Boyle on Feb. 23.

Film enthusiast Gwyn Phillips built the cinema in an old railway carriage in his back garden in 1953. While he died in 1996, his family allowed club members to screen films there. But the cost of running the screen has proved too much for the family and they brought down the curtain on the smallest cinema in Wales.

La Charrette was supposed to have closed down last year following a screening of “Ocean’s Thirteen” in November. But then-film critic Mark Kermode — who fell in love with the cinema while doing a report for the BBC’s “Culture Show” — promised the family he would arrange a world preem to give it a rousing finale. “Alien Love Triangle,” a 30-minute short starring Kenneth Branagh, Courtney Cox and Heather Graham, was made in 2002 but never released. The story of a scientist who discovers his wife is actually a male alien, it was envisaged as part of a portmanteau trilogy for Miramax to be screened back-to-back with two other segments, “Mimic” and “Imposter.”

When those two projects were turned into features in their own right, “Alien Love Triangle” was left in limbo. Branagh planned to attend the pic’s mini black-tie preem, and Cox was sending a videotaped message of support.

“There’s something so personal about opening this kind of place out of a love of cinema over 50 years ago,” says Branagh, who remembers visiting La Charrette in his youth. “It’s a different kind of experience.”

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