herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Fears for iconic Screen as closure possible in 8 weeks

film

The Screen cinema
The Screen cinema

Uncertainty surrounds the future of the iconic Screen cinema in Dublin amid fears of a closure.

The Hawkins Street venue was this weekend at the centre of claims that staff had been put on protected notice and that the business is being wound down.

Neither the Screen cinema nor IMC (the parent company) would comment when contacted by the Herald amid speculation about its future.

"There's no one available to take your call," said a spokeswoman.

One source said that the staff there had been put on eight weeks' protective notice as its future hangs in the balance.

sick

Ticket holders for its forthcoming Opera season, which starts shortly, are being advised to go to the Savoy on O'Connell Street, which is also owned by IMC Cinemas.

Independent Cllr Mannix Flynn has claimed that its closure was "imminent" and believes that this has been on the cards for some time. He also said that the site had suffered from "sick building syndrome".

"It is very sad news. It's the site of the former Abbey Theatre and had all the bobs and whistles about it," he said.

Once known as the Metropole, he said that the adjacent Hawkins House site, which currently houses the Department of Health, is to be completely re-developed and had become very run-down in recent years.

The Office of Public Works is currently in the process of coming up with an action plan for the site and has consulted owners of nearby properties.

Cllr Flynn added how the cinema closure would create a huge "cultural deficit" in the south city area. "You'll never really replace a loss like that. It was well recognised and somewhere associated with the Dublin Film Festival and various premieres," he said.

He added that he would like to see a purpose-built dance theatre created there instead, similar to what they have in London. Lord Mayor of Dublin Criona Ni Dhalaigh said she would be sorry to see the venue close its doors and had become a fan of it since taking office earlier this year.

"It's at the doorstep of the Mansion House and I've been using it as it was dead handy.

"It was one of the most reasonably priced cinemas. With other ones, you'd nearly need to take a mortgage out to go. I loved the Screen," she said.

That part of the city is an "eyesore" and there has been loads of roadworks going on, she said.

footfall

She added that she would like to see the site redeveloped sensitively with an eye to encouraging footfall into the area.

The New Metropole first opened its doors on March 16, 1972 on the site of the previous cinema, The Regal which had been demolished to make way for offices. Before that, it was the Theatre Royal. Built in 1821, it boasted a wintergarden and restaurant.

Reports of the possible closure were met with dismay online, with fans even starting a 'savethescreen' hashtag.

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