A night out at the movies could mean staying right here in Dannevirke in the future.

Darlene Amboy, owner of the Regent Theatre on High St, is keen to reopen the 200-seat cinema theatre again and has been waiting for the warrant of fitness and health and safety requirements to be approved.

"It was just a little harder and pricier due to the new regulations," daughter Stephanie said. "However, it should be all go very soon. We're trying to push the opening day for sometime this year and as soon as we can."

Defeated Tararua mayoral candidate Kay McKenzie is keen to organise a community group to run the theatre and is hoping to have a discussion with Mrs Amboy soon.

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The Regent Theatre was built in 1918 on the site of the original Bank of NSW and is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Board as a category two building in recognition of its historical and cultural heritage significance. The Regent was New Zealand's only provincial theatre from the World War I era to have remained open continuously, apart from short periods for repair and refurbishment, and showed movies until it closed in 2011.

The theatre originally opened as the Arcadia and was refurbished in 1934 as the Delux Theatre, before being refurbished once more in 1989.

Designed in the Spanish Mission style, it is one of the earliest examples of buildings constructed in this style, the first being the Municipal Theatre, Hastings, which was built five years before the Regent.

Renowned for its sea-green tiles and leadlights, hooded with red tiles, the Regent is a distinctive landmark in the centre of town.

On Facebook Amber-Brooke Cowley shared her memories of movies at the Regent.

"I can remember going to our cinema to watch Pocahontas, and Curious George and eating tangy fruits and choc-dip icecream."

And Veda Turkington remembers when her dad, Ken Hook, would take her to the movies at the Regent.

"I remember The Tale of Two Cities in black and white. I hid under the seats when people had their heads chopped off."

In 2012, Christchurch-based businessman Bradley Kewstubb had indicated he was interested in leasing the theatre, but in early 2013 changed his mind.
Now residents head out of town for their movie nights.

Lorraine Scott-Wilson and her husband Brian travel to Pahiatua where the theatre is run by a community group.

"It has a big screen and good sound and they have great movies," Lorraine said. "I understand they receive grants to help keep their cinema running."

The Pahiatua theatre recently had to turn away between 15 and 20 people at an afternoon screening of Finding Dory. This was the first time in many years the theatre had a full house for a school holiday matinee.

Mrs Scott-Wilson can also remember when movies were screened in the Dannevirke Town Hall.

"In those days, many moons ago, the young ones would catch at movie at the Town Hall, affectionately known as the bug house, then head up the road to the Regent to take in another movie," she said.