Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good night and good luck

The news we feared is upon us. It's been confirmed by Benjamin Zeccola, executive director of Palace Cinemas, that last ditch attempts to save Academy Twin Cinema have failed.

After days of speculation, reports and an online campaign by Sydney cinephiles, the news Academy Twin will indeed close its doors for the last time 27 June, 2010 is of terrible of disappointment to a city which has already seen so many closure inflicted on its celluloid landscape. I don't have much time to ruminate on what this means to film-going culture locally in any depth right now, but bellow is a transcript of the conversation I just had with Mr Zeccola...

DH: I understand the verdict has arrived?

BZ: [The Greek Orthodox Community] has come back to us, finally, asking for an astronomical rent, marginally less than they’d originally asked for, but still an astronomical level that just cannot be sustained by any stretch of the imagination.

Does this mean the end for Academy Twin?

Yeah. We thought with all this pressure that was being brought on them by the community and probably, I would have thought, by their own constituents that they would opt for a very solid rental offer and income versus no income at all. But it looks like they’ve gone for the latter. It’s over.

Do you know if they’ve talked to any other chains formally?

I think they’ve tried but I don’t think there’s anyone interested. [editor's note: confirmed as of yesterday morning Dendy Cinemas had not had any talks with the GOC regarding Academy Twin's lease and it is highly unlikely it will be taking over the venue any time soon]

It’s hard to imagine other chains such as Events, Hoyts or Reading going into without the possibility of a significant margin…

No. Those companies in particular wouldn’t run a site in [Academy Twin’s] condition. Maybe the nightclub downstairs will extend, but who knows, it could be any number of uses. I suppose it’s not for me to speculate, but it’s not going to be a Palace Cinema and I think it’s highly unlikely it’ll be a cinema at all.

In terms of Palace Cinema in Sydney this means you’ll be focusing now on Verona and Chauvel for the future?

The Chauvel is a historic cinema in its own right, so we’ve got a focus there.

Interview ends.

That's it folks, sorry to be the harbinger of bad news. You can say your own goodbyes on the Palace Cinema website and spare a thought also the the 15 staff members who now find themselves looking for work. If you have any stories you'd like to share of experiences you've had visiting Academy Twin down the years please feel free to share in the comments section below.

I'm going to be writing an article soon on the history of Academy Twin so would love to hear from anyone who was there when the cinema reopened in 1974.

All that's left is to encourage you all to make sure the cinema's last four days are sellouts. Shouldn't be hard given the current selection which includes Animal Kingdom, Mademoiselle Chambon and Academy Award winner The Secret In Their Eyes

To read my original article which includes comments from GOC President Harry Denalis click here.