Eight-screen Auckland multiplex cinema shut to public: Event says move ‘temporary’

An eight-screen Auckland multiplex cinema complex has stopped screening films to the public after Australasia’s biggest cinema operator shut all theatres temporarily early last year during lockdown.

A spokesman for ASX-listed Event Hospitality & Entertainment in Sydney said that last year, theEvent Cinemas Broadway at 77 Broadway above the Olympic Pools and Fitness Centre in Newmarket had shut.

Event has operations here, in Australia and Germany, owing Australasia’s largest cinema circuits, employing 10,000 people, founded in 1919 and with total equity of A$975.1m.

Shares trade around A$9.92 and market cap is A$1.57b.

But when all other theatres around New Zealand re-opened after the lockdown was lifted, that big Newmarket complex did not. The owners indicated that could be a temporary measure and the site is still being used for private hires and bookings.

“Event Cinema Broadway is temporarily closed due to slow trading as a result of Covid-19,” the spokesman said.

A re-opening date is unconfirmed; however, Newmarket has the new Westfield cinema complex only two blocks up on Broadway.

“We look forward to welcoming the community back to Event Broadway soon,” the spokesman said.

The complex with an art deco-style reception area has for more than a decade screened new films in the unusual property above the pools.

Mark Knoff-Thomas, Newmarket Business Association chief executive, said he was sorry it was no longer functioning as the large multiplex open to the public.

“Although it’s not open, they are doing events there,” he said.

Covid had changed the theatre business dramatically.

The complex was previously named SkyCity Broadway Cinemas. Amalgamated Holdings, now Event Cinemas, took over operations in January 2010.

SkyCity Entertainment, mainly a hotel, casino, and leisure business sold all of its cinemas to Amalgamated, which were then renamed.

In 2013 the eight-screen cinema underwent a major remodel.

Design firm Decorum was reported at the time as taking its inspiration from 20th-century 42nd street theatres and the old 19th-century Parisian cinemas interiors.

The cinema includes dining, bar, and a dedicated event room.

The cinema building is owned by interests associated with major commercial Auckland investors Peter Masfen and his son Rolf. The cinema premises are leased to ASX listed Scentre Group which sub-lets to Event.

Scentre Group spent $790m revamping Westfield Newmarket spanning two blocks. It developed a new cinema withing that complex.

Before 77 Broadway’s cinema shut, Newmarket had more than 20 theatres, making it New Zealand’s movie capital.

Three big multiplexes were operating early last year within just a block of each other: Event Broadway, Rialto Cinema and the new Event at Westfield Newmarket.

Last year, Knoff-Thomas said there was room for all three big cinema complexes in the suburb.

“There will be around 20 theatres when the new one opens. That new rooftop one is going to be a bit more of a boutique complex and will offer features that Event Broadway doesn’t have. I can’t wait, really,” he said last January.

The Rialto Cinema would offer more art films, he said. Event films tend to be more mainstream blockbusters, he said. Art house Rialto Cinema upstairs in the Rialto Centre at 167-169 Broadway.

Event’s newest Newmarket multiplex has V-Max, a “big screen blockbuster movie experience, featuring stadium seating and shows the latest Hollywood blockbusters”, the cinema chain says.

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