New operator for Byron cinema
BYRON Bay is swapping one boutique cinema operator for another, with Palace Cinemas announcing plans to take over the site from mid-November and to upgrade it next year.
The new operator has not said whether it would take on any of the 19 staff currently employed at Byron by Dendy.
The Dendy cinema chain announced in August it could no longer afford to operate its 10-year-old Byron Bay cinema, despite it having a strong customer base, and would close on October 24.
The announcement triggered another round of debate on commercial rents in the town, with Dendy national operations manager Nick Hayes claiming high rents had forced it out while an agent for the property's owner was reported saying rent had been reduced.
At the time, Paul Waters, the president of Byron Bay's chamber of commerce, Byron United, said it was "impossible to imagine the site will stay empty for long".
Mr Waters has now been proved right, with Palace Cinemas announcing the cinema would reopen under its banner in mid-November.
Palace Cinemas is another boutique operator - although with 22 cinemas around Australia is vastly bigger than the Dendy chain, which has three, including Byron, although much smaller than the 57-cinema Event/Greater Union/Birch Carroll & Coyle alliance.
In a statement released today, Palace Cinemas appeared to indicate its Byron Bay operation would follow a similar formula to Dendy Byron Bay.
"The Palace Byron Bay Cinema will present the best selection of international cinema and prestigious film festivals; from quality new release and premium art-house titles to independent films from all over the world," the statement reads.
"Because film aficionados have families too there will be a selection of the best family films available during holidays."
Palace also announced it would update the cinema's projectors "with HD digital projection technology" and upgrade its snack bar, foyer, and toilets.
"Opportunities to expand the cinemas by adding new auditoria are also being explored along with sustainability measures to reduce energy consumption and recycle water," the statement says.
The snack bar menu was also in line for a makeover, extending to wine, coffee, gourmet ice-cream, and locally-sourced snacks "to accompany a premium cinema going experience".
Club Dendy, the cinema's loyalty program, would also be reinvented through The Palace Movie Club, offering discounted tickets, free tickets on birthdays and an offer to let anyone unsatisfied with a film see another one free immediately.
The Byron Bay cinema would become one of the hosting cinemas for the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, The Alliance Française French Film Festival, and Spanish Film festivals.