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Two historic cinemas saved from permanent closure 

This news post is 10 months old

The charity-run venues are set to have new operators. 

Two historic cinemas in Scotland have been saved from closure after deals were struck. 

The Belmont Cinema in Aberdeen and Filmhouse in Edinburgh have both agreed deals which they hope will keep them open. 

The Belmont Cinema, a council-owned three screen cinema, has remained closed to the public since the previously contracted operator, Belmont Filmhouse limited - a subsidiary of charity Centre for Moving Image - went into administration with its parent company in October 2022.

A preferred operator was agreed at a council committee earlier this week to bring the Belmont Cinema back to life again.

Following the closure in 2022, the Save the Belmont Cinema campaign was launched. 

The new group behind the reopening - Belmont Community Cinema Ltd - was borne out of the grassroots campaign, with a directorship drawing on experienced personnel with knowledge and skills in cinema, capital development, business, marketing, community engagement and education.  

Belmont Community Cinema Ltd have now set out plans to reopen the building as an independent, not-for-profit cinema, operated and programmed from Aberdeen which focuses on four key areas - cultural film programming, education and filmmaking, community, and customer experience.

Belmont Community Cinema Ltd said in a statement: "Over the last few months, the team has worked tirelessly to put together a business plan and vision for the Belmont that puts the community front and centre of everything that we do."

Key to success will be an ambitious refurbishment programme, a strong locally supplied food and drink offer and building an attractive membership programme to ensure sustainability.

A timeline provided in the company’s business plan indicates a target to reopen July/August 2024 which allows for a six month period to carry out due diligence, condition surveys, finalisation of costs, contraction and fundraising prior to commencement of refurbishment work in April 2024.

City Council co-leader, Councillor Ian Yuill, said: “People have missed having an independent cinema in our city centre since the Belmont Cinema closed. Choosing a preferred operator is a very important step towards reopening the Belmont Cinema under new management.

“We look forward to seeing the preferred operator develop their plans into a thriving and popular cinema once again.”

Meanwhile, in the capital, a deal has been struck which could see cinema return to the Filmhouse on Lothian Road. 

Around 100 jobs were lost in April this year before the B-listed building was sold by administrators to a new owner £2.65million following the collapse of the Centre for Moving Image. 

A six-month lease has now been agreed with a charity which is aiming to open the cinema once again as an independent venue for film - with the Filmhouse previously hosting the Edinburgh International Film festival. 

The Filmhouse charity was formed in December 2022 by four former cinema colleagues - James Rice, Rod White, David Boyd, and Ginnie Atkinson, the former CEO of Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival until 2010.

Screen Scotland has awarded the charity £60,000 to support its planning and development work.

The charity hopes to raise £1.25m initially before reopening the Filmhouse’s doors in 2024.

Ginnie Atkinson told the BBC: "This is a significant step on the journey towards restoring cultural cinema provision for the city. Filmhouse is more than just a cinema - it's a home for cinema lovers and for film festivals and is proud of its track record in the area of film education, which would continue.

"We are delighted to be able to launch the fundraising campaign with the goal of opening the doors to a newly refurbished cinema building in 2024."