The ABC cinema had seemed doomed. It is due to close at the end of its lease on July 10 because owners Odeon says it is no longer commercially viable.

Yet Chris Byrne of the Save the Aldershot Cinema Group said a former cinema proprietor is looking into taking out a new lease.

He said: "From what I understand it is all very much up in the air at the moment, but I have been told that someone is interested in taking it over.

"This would be very good news for Aldershot — the closure of the cinema will obviously have a huge impact on the people who use it."

Gala owns the High Street building, which houses the cinema and the Gala bingo hall, and the company has stated it will definitely be staying at the site.

A spokeswoman said: "It was ABC's decision not to renew the lease. The bingo hall is not shutting down, just the cinema. Gala are completely committed to staying in Aldershot. We want to reassure everyone that we are here to stay."

A new cinema is planned for the Westgate development in Wellington Avenue.

Work on this will start in the winter and should take 18 months. The project is also likely to include a hotel, homes, parking and a new Gala bingo hall.

But Rushmoor's head of planning Keith Holland said he woudl welcome a potential buyer.

He added: "That would be very good news, if someone were planning to plug the gap in between the closure of the ABC and the opening of the new cinema.

"In terms of planning permission they would not need to apply because permission has already been granted for a cinema on the site."

Despite the rumours the Save the Aldershot Cinema Group still plans to hand over a petition to the council and Odeon on July 5.

Last Saturday members staged a demonstration outside the building dressed as film stars to highlight their plight. They are furious that the cinema will close before a new one is opened at Westgate.

Campaigner Paul Burns, who dressed up as Clint Eastwood, said he thought the whole thing was a disgrace.

"Aldershot will be without a cinema for at least two years," he said.

"It's ridiculous — plans for a new one have been around for so long that we don't know when or if it's going to happen.

"In Farnham the cinema was shut down and they never built a new one — it's still a flat car park."

People are invited to attend the event outside the cinema in fancy dress in protest at the closure.

Mr Byrne added: "The town needs a family-friendly cinema.

"Two years is a long time to be without one."