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Author Topic: Cinema Referbishment
Neil McGovern
Film Handler

Posts: 35
From: Sheffield, UK
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 05-04-2003 07:59 AM      Profile for Neil McGovern   Author's Homepage   Email Neil McGovern   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi all,
I'm considering the following property to buy and return to it's former glory.

Asking price £165k last time I looked. Pretty derelict, some asbestos in the roof. Suffers from occasional flooding from the underground river Tyburne occasionally, so needs the sump pumping weekly. All the electrics have been stripped, 3-phase still provided by the local supplier but is now unterminated.

Built in 1935, ground lease until 2033 with a condition that it is used as a cinema. Site area 33,000 sq ft, original seating capacity of 1,594, built by Associated British Cinemas Ltd (ABC) and designed by in-house architect William R Glen III.

120ft accurate throw needed to light the main screen.

Tripled with standard ABC drop-wall and box-out conversion in 1977 (may be 1976) to a seating spec of (screen 1) 526, (screen 2) 231, (screen 3) 181.
All seating was still in-situ when we visited, although will need
re-upholstering. Some artefacts remain such as the mercury arc rectifiers, some spots, some bits and bobs of stage gear. The stage is a full stage.

Screen sizes post-tripling:
Screen 1: 26'6" x 15' (34'6 x 15' widescreen)
Phillips ST200 projector
Screen 2: 13'3" x 7'3" (16'9" x 7'3" widescreen)
Phillips FP20 projector
Screen 3: 12'3" x 7'6" (16' x 7'6" widescreen)
Phillips FP20 projector

Gretton-Ward automation equipment was used post-tripling.

Premises come with several shop leaseholdings with 7 units ranging from an annual rental income of £2,750 to £6,000, but most are empty or boarded up.

There is a Cineworld (12 screens, full SRD) about a mile away.

Is this a worthwile project in peoples opinion?

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Ray Bernardi
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 120
From: Antrim, NH, USA
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted 05-04-2003 09:22 AM      Profile for Ray Bernardi   Email Ray Bernardi   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My first thought is that it's closed and derelict for a reason. The area might not be able to support your three screens with the 12 plex right down the road. That sounds like pretty serious competition.

My second thought is money. The asking price seems high to me for a building that's in ruins and would need to be totally restored.

have you looked into what the costs would be to restore the place? I'd have some contractors come in and give you some ball park figures of what kind of money you're talking about. I don't think you can decide if it's a worthy project until you have those figures.

Then you need to make it a cinema again after it's restored. The equipment we use ain't cheap by any means. You are going to need some serious money in this area as well.

You'd need to do some forecasts that determine potential income from the place. I usually do these with a very pessimistic slant. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised with better actuals than really bummed out by not hitting my numbers week after week.

Once you know within reason what you'll spend, and have a good idea of the income you'll make, then you can determine how long it will take to get back your initial investment in the place. If it's 300 years, it doesn't sound like a good deal to me. If it's within a reasonable time however.......

Good luck with whatever you decide, it sounds like a very big project. I'd be very wary of it myself.

I keep going back to "there's a reason it's derelict".

Keep us posted!

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Neil McGovern
Film Handler

Posts: 35
From: Sheffield, UK
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 05-04-2003 09:39 AM      Profile for Neil McGovern   Author's Homepage   Email Neil McGovern   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe the reason for it closing is due to fire, as opposed to competition, but it has remained closed for a significant amount of time, of course.

I'm gonna make a vague estimate of £250,000 for equipment for 3 screens (CP650s and Victoria 5s with CNR 3-35 platters).

Hopefully, we can work out a deal with the council, as they really want a cinema back there.

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Matt Hale
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 123
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: Dec 2002

 - posted 05-04-2003 05:24 PM      Profile for Matt Hale   Author's Homepage   Email Matt Hale   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Beware of water damage! Even if it has not caused any structural problems (and a qualified engineer has told you so) it can encourage all sorts of nasty things to grow.

An abandoned theatre that I am involved with (and was only built mid-70s) has sprouted all sorts of exotic moulds and fungi, to the point where the health department requires us to strip the building to bare concrete and steel before scrubbing everything with chemical disinfectants and washing it down with high-pressure steam. Everything porous in the building has to go - including the plaster & drywall.

On my initial inspection of the building, I spent about an hour inside without benefit of a respirator. Then I spent 3 weeks in bed on heavy antibiotics trying to get rid of the fungus that started growing in my lungs.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 15887
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-04-2003 05:35 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Looks pretty bad to me....and then you want to make it worse and install V-5s????? Ha????

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Dan Lyons
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 698
From: Seal Beach, CA
Registered: Sep 2002

 - posted 05-04-2003 06:38 PM      Profile for Dan Lyons   Email Dan Lyons   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry for being negative, but WHY???

I looked at all the pics on the link you provided, and I could see nothing at all interesting or worth saving.

Does this theatre have some type of grand architural details that are not shown in the photos? All I'm seeing is a decaying "box", not a movie palace worthy of spending that kind of money. [Confused]


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Jack Ondracek
Film God

Posts: 2246
From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002

 - posted 05-04-2003 09:46 PM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Kindof looks like one of those situations where emotion fights reason. From the look of it, I'm not sure where you see the economic upside, but I'm here and you're there.

Assuming you could get the financing to put this together, there'd be the other theatre to deal with. I don't know how the studios allocate product in your country. But if it's anything like it is here, and assuming you could get in the loop, you'd basically get 3 titles to the other theatre's 12... and you probably wouldn't start out with the better ones, either. It's unlikely you'd get to run the same product the other theatre had at the same time... you're probably too close for that. In any case, I wouldn't touch this if I didn't have some very good assurances that the studios would serve the place IF it were reopened. You'd need to convince the studios to serve you as a new and unknown account, over the likely objections of the established Cineworld.

Then there's the building. If you had found a place that had its business run into the ground by a staff that didn't care, but still had a physical plant in reasonably decent shape, you might be able to make a case for cleaning it up... maybe adding a little equipment, then working your fingernails off to get the community to see you had a better operation. Still, people gravitate to where the picture is, and this forum is full of stories about dumps that still tie up product while better operations go without (note copious references to "Cache 8").

In American dollars, you need to average at least 2 dollars for every dollar you keep. The other dollar goes to the film company. Out of your dollar (and those you make in similar fashion at the concession) you'll pay everything else... rent, heat, staff, insurance, taxes, payments on equipment, maintenance, deposits on just about everything (until your credit is established), interest on your loans and payments on the renovations you had to make to get the place open. Oh yah... you probably want to eat, too, so figure in a buck or two there! Add all that up. Do you think there's that much extra entertainment money in your market?

From the look of your pictures, that building looks like it would snack on a million bucks and still be hungry. Reasonably speaking, how could you take all these factors, adapt them to your market and see yourself succeeding where nobody else seems to be interested?

Answer all this, and you'll probably have just the beginnings of a reasonably good notion whether this is something you really want to dump your life into.

Good luck!

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9390
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-05-2003 10:32 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would think that you would require some major permits for renovations and repairs and that would then entail you upgrade to modern codes including handicap asessibility requirements

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Ken Layton
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1452
From: Olympia, Wash. USA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 05-05-2003 11:18 AM      Profile for Ken Layton   Email Ken Layton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here in the USA, a building like yours would be required to not only accomodate the handicapped, but would also have to do "earthquake" refitting. This type of work could be quite expensive, but if you could get alot of community volunteers and major tax breaks from local officials then you might have a chance. Don't give up hope.

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Thomas Procyk
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1842
From: Royal Palm Beach, FL, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 05-05-2003 11:30 AM      Profile for Thomas Procyk   Email Thomas Procyk   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe the reason for it closing is due to fire,
[Eek!] It has water/flood AND fire damage?!? How bad/where was the fire located at? If the fire damaged anything structural, and then the rain came in and soaked it, you could have some serious problems there.


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Darren Briggs
Master Film Handler

Posts: 371
From: York, UK
Registered: Dec 2001

 - posted 05-05-2003 11:35 AM      Profile for Darren Briggs   Author's Homepage   Email Darren Briggs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you do get this project off the ground, i would sugest you contact Peter Hall at Future Projections who could offer advice and supply of all equipment needed, new or second hand.
I would go for Re-conditioned gear and save you money, but the quality of the image/sound would be the same.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-05-2003 12:50 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
V5s? What's wrong with some nice rebuilt Centurys or Simplexes? Or, if you have the cash, Kinotons?

Actually, this is probably the least of your problems. Personally, I'd pass on this place. Hopefully you'll find something else that's in better condition and which is more likely to be financially successful.

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Geoffrey Weiss
Film Handler

Posts: 68
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: May 2001

 - posted 05-05-2003 01:44 PM      Profile for Geoffrey Weiss   Email Geoffrey Weiss   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Timely topic. I have just accepted a job at a college in Mount Olive, NC, where there's a derelict theatre downtown. During the interview with the college's president, I was asked what it might take for the college to acquire the building, renovate, and screen classic films there (not the "skin flicks" they're making nowadays--according to the president).

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get inside, but I could smell the "old moldy theatre smell" through the door. I'm going back down in a couple of weeks and will post pictures at that point.

Let me post a question for the debate by the experts. What's the feasibility of acquiring a more-or-less "complete" booth on ebay or from someone who's renovating? Keep in mind that it would probably run three shows a week--at most.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9390
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-05-2003 02:36 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
V5's or V8 make sense as they have a larger installed UK base than does simplex
Or better get some FP20's

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Mike Pennell
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 150
From: Tucson, AZ, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted 05-05-2003 03:30 PM      Profile for Mike Pennell   Email Mike Pennell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would stay as far as possible from this project unless you've got big pockets. Once youve got the referb done you would be competing with a 12 plex down the street, and as Jack pointed out above you wouldnt be able to get the product to show. I'd talk to an experienced film booker in your area to get some kind feel for the uphill battle youd be fighting with the studios and your competiton.

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