A man's love for his wife and old-school cinema has saved an iconic suburban theatre from closure.
Capitol Cinema on Auckland's busy Dominion Rd shut its doors mid-April but the seats in the popular single-screen cinema barely had time to cool before keen new owners came forward.
Local cinema industry veterans Kelly Rogers and David Ross have committed to a long-term lease to keep the historic theatre going.
When Rogers caught wind of the Capitol's closure he was devastated.
"For me, it holds sentimental value as I met my wife via the Capitol, and I also ran it for some months back in the early 90s, so there's an important history there," Rogers said.
"We still come along to watch something every few weeks and sit in the same middle seats."
Rogers spoke with business partner David Ross and the pair, who founded the successful Rialto Cinemas, Rialto Channel and Rialton Distribution brands, made an offer.
They both praised the work previous owner Richard Dalton had done, including a full refurbishment in 2009.
"Richard has done a massive job at the Capitol and hat's off to his love and perseverance for one of Auckland's most-loved venues.
"We really wanted this for the community, we made a deal and I think it was the quickest deal we have ever done."
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Dalton said he shut the business with reluctance and cited economic reasons for the closure.
His love for the business and the old building, which has a category A protection, was what had kept the doors open for so long, he said.
"Basically the cinema has never made a profit – but we've been happy to carry it because we love the building and felt proud of the fit-out we'd undertaken," he said.
Rogers and Ross, who also own the Bridgeway Theatre in Northcote Point, said there was nothing like old-style cinemas.
"There's an old-fashioned romance in coming to an old theatre like this," Ross said.
"There's plenty of room, you're not cheek-to-jowl, and there's old-fashioned rolled ice-cream and craft beer."
The neo-Greek designed cinema was built in 1923 and was one of the earliest and most popular suburban venues in Auckland.
The doors shut when the cinema was gutted by fire in 1978 but reopened in 1986 under the management of Th' Dudes manager and cinema man Charley Gray.
Renamed Charley Gray's, the stone building became a popular Friday night movie haunt for teens keen to watch classics such as A Clockwork Orange and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Rogers and Ross have a few tweaks to make before the doors reopen next week and there is a real excitement about future events.
"There will be a real focus on community, fundraisers, ladies' nights, goodie bags and some of the magic from the 1930s and 40s," Ross said.
"In the holidays there will be films that grandparents can bring the grandkids to."
The Capitol will play a diverse range from upmarket films such as Rocketman to mainstream and family content like the upcoming Disney live-action Lion King, documentaries such as Pavarotti, musical events like Andre Rieu: Live from Maastricht and everything in between.
The Capitol Cinema will officially reopen on Thursday, May 30 with sessions of Dexter Fletcher's biopic of the life of Elton John, Rocketman.