By Grainne Graham, News Reporter
The Movie House Cinema on Belfast’s Dublin Road, is reported to face closure in the coming months. It is suggested that the building will be demolished, to be replaced by a £65 million structure, consisting of 12 floors. Those behind the building’s construction claim the complex will have the capacity to accommodate for over 3,000 staff. Furthermore, the developers claim that the planned building will immediately employ 600 employees for future jobs once opened. ‘One Bankmore Square’ will take the place of the much-loved cinema, frequented by students of Queen’s University, located just over a mile away. Developers the Richland Group contend that it will be the biggest office block in Northern Ireland.
While the news has created a mixed reaction from the public, students in the Queen’s area are in uproar at the obliterating of their local cinema. Minutes away from Belfast’s oldest University and home to approximately 24,000 students, The Movie House was a second home to movie-goers, particularly during their cheap Tuesday nights deals, known affectionately by revellers as ‘Crazy Tuesday’. In comparison to other cinemas, The Movie House triumphed thanks to its reasonable prices, a determining factor to any student or family willing to lighten their wallets for a night of cheap entertainment. One of only five Movie House cinemas in Northern Ireland, the Dublin Road site remains a popular location for students, and indeed the only cinema in the university area.
While it is argued that replacing the cinema with a building that is said to bring new jobs to the area would be a welcomed boost to the economy, those following the developments on social media have drawn attention to the abundance of workers employed by the Movie House who face job losses, including stewards, managers, and cleaners. Protections guaranteed for Movie House workers are, at this point, unclear.
News of the demolition has prompted an online petition to save the cinema from closure, and to prevent the new development from being constructed. To date, over 3,000 people have signed the appeal, reflective of the attachment the local community has with the theatre. Whether or not the reaction of the public will exert an influence upon the company’s expansion is unclear. Regardless, future months will provide more developments on a story which has gotten movie-lovers and local students talking.
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