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Cinema Legislation

Laws governing cinemas, how they're run and what they can or can't show

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The first piece of British legislation specifically aimed at cinemas was the 1909 Cinematograph Act, which introduced a system of licences for cinema owners to ensure the safety of their buildings and audiences (though a side-effect of this legislation was to introduce film censorship).

Other Acts governing safety include the 1922 Celluloid and Cinematograph Film Act, the 1952 Cinematograph Act and the 1971 Fire Precautions Act. Further licensing requirements were laid down by the 1982 Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, which sought to clamp down on pornography. All of the provisions of the above Acts were eventually brought under the general umbrella of the 1985 Cinemas Act.

Regulation of opening hours was first established by the self-explanatory 1932 Sunday Entertainments Act, amended by the 1972 Sunday Cinema Act - which, amongst other things, established a fund to encourage the development of education through the film medium (an early beneficiary of this being the British Film Institute). As with safety legislation, these provisions were eventually incorporated into the 1985 Cinemas Act.

A key piece of legislation was the 1927 Cinematograph Films Act, which for the first time established quotas for British films, a move intended to boost the domestic film industry in the face of strong competition from Hollywood, but which had mixed results. This Act was modified by further Cinematograph Films Acts in 1938 and 1948, together with the 1960, 1966, 1970 and 1980 Films Acts, all of which were eventually repealed by the 1985 Films Act.

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Thumbnail image of 1909 Cinematograph Act1909 Cinematograph Act

A law designed to make cinemas safer which also introduced film censorship

Thumbnail image of 1922 Celluloid and Cinematograph Act1922 Celluloid and Cinematograph Act

Legislation covering safety issues regarding highly flammable nitrate film

Thumbnail image of 1932 Sunday Entertainments Act1932 Sunday Entertainments Act

Legislation regulating how cinemas operated on Sundays

Thumbnail image of 1982 Cinematograph (Amendment) Act1982 Cinematograph (Amendment) Act

Legislation concerning the licensing of pornographic cinema clubs

Thumbnail image of 1985 Cinemas Act1985 Cinemas Act

The current legislation governing the licensing and running of cinemas

Thumbnail image of LegislationLegislation

Laws governing the film industry and how films are made and shown

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