Fi­nal cur­tain for his­toric cin­ema

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - MATT STE­WART

Welling­ton’s old­est cin­ema – the Paramount on Courte­nay Place – will cel­e­brate its cen­te­nary be­fore its doors close.

Cin­ema Paramount (CPL) di­rec­tor Janet Car­son said the his­toric theatre would cease op­er­at­ing in Septem­ber.

‘‘Af­ter 100 years, we’re gut­ted to be the ones clos­ing the door. It’s hard,’’ she said.

Car­son said the busi­ness had not been kicked out of its premises. Its cur­rent lease, which ex­pires in May, had been ex­tended un­til Septem­ber by ne­go­ti­a­tion with the land­lord.

‘‘We just couldn’t come to an agree­ment on a lease that would keep our busi­ness vi­able. We could not reach terms that were ac­cept­able to both par­ties for a re­newal.’’

Car­son said the theatre would keep its com­mit­ments to cur­rent fes­ti­vals – in­clud­ing July’s In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val – and venue hir­ers un­til Septem­ber.

‘‘We were keen to con­tinue on at this site. The theatre is iconic and it has al­ways been our dream to see it con­tinue. We have owned the Paramount for 15 years.’’

Un­til the cin­ema’s doors shut, it would be ‘‘busi­ness as usual, with our eclec­tic se­lec­tion of movies and events con­tin­u­ing’’.

‘‘On be­half of the other CPL share­hold­ers ... we are proud to have kept the Paramount go­ing as a lively venue for the best of cin­ema – as well as other events and live gigs – since we took over in 2002. It has not al­ways been easy, but it has been a solid busi­ness and we have loved every minute of it.’’

Car­son said de­tails of the theatre’s send-off and 100-year cel­e­bra­tion would be re­leased soon.

In June, the Paramount – sit­u­ated in the heart of the cap­i­tal’s party zone – was granted re­source con­sent to de­velop a four-star ho­tel ac­com­mo­dat­ing up to 46 guests. That per­mit is valid for five years.

Prop­erty man­ager Alan Blun­dell said the idea for a bou­tique ho­tel had been a ‘‘plan B’’ and there were no con­crete plans for the site’s fu­ture.

Primed for re­de­vel­op­ment, the prop­erty – which also fea­tures ground-floor re­tail space – was listed for sale last year. How­ever, Blun­dell said Novem­ber’s Kaik­oura quake dis­rupted its mar­ket­ing of that op­por­tu­nity.

The owner would be look­ing for al­ter­na­tive uses for the build­ing once the Paramount had va­cated.

Built in 1917, the Paramount theatre will close in Septem­ber af­ter a cen­tury of near con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion in the cap­i­tal.

PHOTO: ALEXAN­DER TURN­BULL LI­BRARY/REF PA6-017

The Courte­nay Place venue in 1923.

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