Dreams of the Regent Theatre return swallowed by high costs

GHOST HALLS: The Regent Theatre has sat empty for a long time now, and plans may keep it that way for a while longer if no resolution can be found.

GHOST HALLS: The Regent Theatre has sat empty for a long time now, and plans may keep it that way for a while longer if no resolution can be found.

The Regent Theatre has long been a place of memories for people who saw their first film there, to those that would visit with friends and family for weekend outings, or even just a place to buy lollies and treats as a child.

The memories of the theatre do not include the high costs of keeping the business alive, and it’s become clear that the Regent building cannot support the dream of a theatre returning to its halls.

With the cheap costs of running the Town Hall Theatre it is clear that the community run picture hall, designed for both kids and adults to be able to see the latest movies, has succeeded where the stand-alone theatre would more than likely fail.

$4.7 million was the tally of costs revealed by the Mid-Western Regional Council’s last investigation into the renewal of the theatre.

Breaking down the large sum, money would have to be funneled into:

  • design, consultant and application fees ($70,000)
  • construction of theatrettes ($150,000)
  • external lift for accessibility ($250,000)
  • upgrading toilets ($200,000)
  • general maintenance and upgrade including painting ($400,000)
  • theatre fit out including seating ($530,000)
  • kiosk ($100,000)
  • air conditioning, electrical upgrades and fire safety ($300,000)

Costs would also include a second stage, which is estimated at $2.05 million.

The report does not include the ongoing cost of running the Regent, such as staff, electricity, heating, marketing or insurance, or finance costs.

It’s predicted by economic analysts that the average income of a movie theatre in Australia is around just 25% of the ticket stub costs, and with just one screen attached to the Regent and 986 seats, there would be a small profit margin for any private owner.

The current owner of the building, Cameron Scott-Fell, hopes that the economic cost of the restoration would be the final bullet point in that discussion.

“It just doesn’t really work because of the expensive costs involved,” he said.

“We’d rather look at turning the building into something that might work in the long run and has the ability to have a long life.”

His last suggestion was met with resistance from council almost two years ago, but he hopes that a new path can be found for the building and its heritage materials.

“I still think that the cultural centre based in the building would be a good option,” he suggested.

“All that needs to be done is a bit of work on the inside like leveling out the floors and we can celebrate the culture of the town in a building that has that in droves.”

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