Hastings gets it cinema back

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN

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Hastings is getting a state-of-the art cinema, with the existing cinema re-opening in time for the September school holidays.

A major refurbishment of the 1933 State Theatre building, due to start in February, will include 3-D technology, new operator Focal Point Cinema said.

The Manawatu company's director, Matt Bell, said he signed the lease on the 1933 State Theatre building in Heretaunga St East yesterday and two of the four cinemas would be converted to digital projectors "almost immediately".

"There are many reasons why a digital movie experience is superior," he said.

"We haven't chosen a 3-D system yet - there are about five to choose from - but 3-D will be part of the refurbishment."

Apart from the digital projectors the cinema would remain "as is" until the refurbishment started in February next year, he said.

Focal Point operated successful boutique cinemas in Feilding and Levin, which were run "in quite a different way" from the previous Hastings cinema operator, Reading Cinemas, he said.

"Focal Point's vision statement is to be loved by the community - we are happy to provide private screenings for fundraising. We love customising an evening for a group."

The February upgrade will include a licensed café, a feature of the company's other cinemas.

Building part-owner Joanne Edwards said the new operator was "very exciting" for Hawke's Bay movie-goers and the building development would fit in well with the renewal of the Hastings CBD.

"There will be be a complete revamp in two stages early next year - we are talking with architects and builders now."

Site manager Greg Rowe said with grandstand seating the cinemas would be offering quality over quantity - across the four cinemas there would be about 400 seats instead of the current 700.

"The seats will be a lot bigger and more comfortable, with plenty of leg room so you can stretch out. It will be a much better experience than you can get at home," he said.

Ms Edwards said Reading moved out in January even though its lease on the building ran until August.

"They didn't have their heart in it but Focal Point will provide a quality, contemporary offering."

Steveejaye Healey, movie fan and manager of neighbouring fashion store Red Rat Clothing, said the opening would provide a welcome lift for nearby businesses.

"It has been a lot quieter on the footpath outside since the theatre closed, especially in the school holidays," she said.

A previous deal to re-open the movie theatre, with Sydney-based former Hawke's Bay radio personality and cinema owner Graeme Edwards, fell through.

Mr Bell said he had confirmed only one of the movie titles for the re-opening, the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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