Business at small, boutique cinemas in Wellington has doubled since the November 7.8 earthquake knocked the city's two major cinemas out of action.

Reading Cinema in Wellington's city centre is shut while its car park building is being demolished, and Event Cinema in Queensgate, Lower Hutt, is being demolished due to earthquake damage.

The closures are driving people to the smaller cinemas around Wellington, and owners are hoping they will have earned themselves some new customers who will stay on once the big cinemas are open again.

Operations manager of Empire Cinema and Eatery Nick Payne said they'd had record numbers of people through over the holiday period.


"It's been unbelievable, especially on the sort of public holidays for Boxing Day and New Years. We've done outstanding numbers and breaking records. It's great," he said.

About 750 admission tickets were sold at the Empire, which he said was about double the usual number - although the cinema has been operating for less than two years.

He hoped the new customers would continue to visit once the bigger cinemas reopened.

"We work really hard to make an experience for people and it's great to sort of showcase that to people - it might not be the nicest way for it to have come about but it's definitely great for us being a new business."

Owner of Paramount Cinema Steven Ferguson also said business had been booming since the earthquake.

He and his staff first started seeing the boost in numbers about two weeks after the quake.

"Since the unfortunate events, the earthquake in November, business looks like it's probably doubled over that period of time," he said.

"It's a very significant increase and it's been consistent.

"As an arthouse cinema, normally we're a bit quieter over the Christmas New Year period."

It had been about five or six years since business had been as good, he said.

He also expected to have more returning faces, saying they'd had "very positive" reactions from people visiting the cinema for the first time.

It is not known when Reading Cinema will reopen, though demolition of the car park is expected to finish in March, and there is no word yet on how long it will take to rebuild the Event Cinema at Queensgate.