Volunteers save Kaikohe cinema

By Peter de Graaf

Just three weeks after shutting down, Kaikohe's Castle Duo is back as a community-run cinema.

The twin-screen cinema's operator, Ben Wilson, did not renew his lease when it expired in October because it was becoming increasingly difficult to source movies for the cinema's 35mm projectors and upgrading to digital would cost more than $100,000.

Fears that it could close for good prompted a group of Kaikohe residents to take on the cinema as a community project.

They set up a committee, enlisted volunteers, learnt how to use the projectors, set up front-of-house systems and struck up a rapport with the distributors.

Last night was the first screening at the reborn Castle Duo Community Cinemas with a Wattie's Cans Film Festival, in which movie-goers donate a can of food instead of buying a ticket. The cans will go to the Salvation Army.

Tomorrow is the soft opening with four screenings starting at 5.30pm with Madagascar 3, followed by What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Bourne Legacy and Magic Mike.

Kaikohe Panelbeaters co-owner Carolyn Penney, who chairs the volunteer committee with Trumps Cafe co-owner Waa Whareaitu, said getting the cinema running again had involved an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work.

The group was in the process of setting up an incorporated society and devising a plan for raising the money needed to upgrade the cinema.

"In the meantime we want to keep it running to keep money coming in, because there's still bills to pay. We're looking forward to it. We've got a good community group who are all digging in and volunteering in various ways. The last thing we wanted to see was another Kaikohe business closing."

Mrs Penney said she also wanted to see the cinema used for events such as school productions.

The group is still looking for volunteers. Email info@castleduocinemas.co.nz or visit the Castle Duo Community Cinemas page on Facebook. Schedules at www.castleduocinemas.co.nz. Another Cans Film Festival will be November 14.

- Northern Advocate

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