Rhyl Journal: Proposals put forward for new operator to take over lease of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema

The current tenant of a Prestatyn cinema has put forward a proposal for a new operator – just nine months after taking it on.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that they are “in discussion” with the existing leaseholder about a potential new operator. Rob Arthur became the new leaseholder of the Scala Cinema last July.

The new operator – believed to be Geoff Greaves, director of Merlin Cinemas – is expected to be at the helm from Friday. Those in the cinema industry have commented that Mr Greaves has “better access to big films” – The Jungle Book is to be shown this weekend.

Mr Arthur, ex-Apollo cinema chief, has been criticised by cinema-goers for not showing “blockbusters and top films” such as Kung Fu Panda 3 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Last September, Mr Arthur reassured cinema-goers that the future of the Scala cinema was “safe” after his complex in Thurso shut its doors. Mr Arthur took over the Scottish Highlands based cinema in 2012 and had been striving to find funds to keep the business afloat. The new operators of the complex in Thurso is Merlin Cinemas.

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“We are in discussion with the existing leaseholder about a potential new operator for the Scala and we are pleased with how the discussions are progressing.”

“Whilst we are the landlord, we have a strong interest in the Scala continuing to operate as a successful cinema and important facility in Prestatyn. We are more than happy to facilitate discussions with the current operator to allow that to continue”.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema who writes a column for Screentrade magazine, said:

“I often speak with my film rental contacts and it is common knowledge that Geoff Greaves is to have the lease transferred over to him – as soon as Friday. He has got two Disney films already lined up. He is good – just watch what he does with the Scala.”

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, said:

“The Scala is now an established and important facility in Prestatyn. I am pleased that it looks set to benefit from an improved offer, including better access to big films, starting with Jungle Book this weekend.”

Attempts have been made to contact Rob Arthur.

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 12 April 2016 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Scala cinema welcomes 10,000 customers in two months

A cinema boss has a noticeable spring in his step after welcoming more than 10,000 customers in just over two months.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

Aurora Leisure Ltd, run by Rob Arthur, became the new leaseholder of the Scala Cinema Theatre Cafebar in Prestatyn earlier this year.

The venue opened its doors on Friday, July 2, and, in the weeks since, visitor figures have exceeded expectations.

Mr Arthur is still in the throes of re-opening parts of the business. The Courtyard Cafe is up and running and work has started on the former Saronies bar on the first floor.

Days ago, the spirits of the ex-Apollo chief were dampened when his complex in Thurso shut its doors. Mr Arthur, who took over the Scottish Highlands based cinema in 2012, had been striving to find funds to keep the business afloat.

Thurso cinema does not form part of the Aurora Group. Thurso comes under Thurso Cinema Ltd and is separate to Aurora Leisure Ltd.

Mr Arthur, who is from Bathgate and married with two children, said: “I’ve been involved in Thurso for three years so it’s sad. The staff have worked so hard. There is every likelihood that it could open again in the future, but we couldn’t commit any longer.”

“Thurso’s closure doesn’t impact on Prestatyn. It would have had a negative impact on Prestatyn if it had belonged to Aurora. Aurora Leisure Ltd is absolutely on and it is working. Since the Scala opened, we’ve had 10,000 customers through the door. The number has exceeded our initial expectations. We haven’t made a big noise, we opened quietly and customers have become familiar with the building once more.”

Aurora Leisure took on the Scala after members of the former trust agreed to hand back their keys and lease to the council in January after efforts to save the venue failed.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson added: “We are happy with how well the Scala has done in its first weeks of operating and the response from the public has been extremely positive. Rob has advised us that there is no impact on the cinema from the closure of the Thurso and we will be meeting with him this week to discuss this.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 16.09.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Countdown to the reopening of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema

FINAL preparations are being made ahead of the re-opening of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema.

Rob Arthur, who runs Aurora Leisure Ltd – the new leaseholder of the venue – confirmed that his team were on target to reopen on Friday, July 3 and that a public meeting would be held “sometime” next week.

The cinema hopes to introduce 4k projectors and a new satellite for live events; equipment is set to be installed this week. A management team has been recruited and other staff will be hired.

Tickets for live events are already on sale – NT Live: Everyman on Thursday, July 16, Andre Rieu 2015 Maastricht Concert, July, Saturday 18 and the RSC: The Merchant of Venice on Wednesday, July 22.

Mr Arthur, previously the managing director of Apollo Cinemas, said: “We are working to open the cinema as quickly as possible.  We want to hold a public meeting. We have taken a lot of time with this because we need to get it right.”

Leaseholders have promised that residents and visitors to Prestatyn will see “plenty of activity” around the building this week.

A post on the Scala Cinema Prestatyn Facebook page reads: “This week we’re ramping everything up and moving from behind-the-scenes work to some real work.”

“Following the closure of the Scala, earlier in the year, key parts of the old projection equipment were removed from the cinema by the former operator. We took the decision to replace with more modern, reliable equipment that will be guaranteed and serviced by Sony over the next five years.”

“We will not be opening every part of the Scala initially, as we think it is important to meet and discuss the options for the future with the public before making definite plans.”

Councillor Paul Penlington, Prestatyn North, expressed he was pleased to hear about the imminent re-opening of the Scala.

“It has been a concerning few months but we’re very fortunate to have a state of the art facility on our high street during difficult economic times,” he said.

“My colleagues and I have worked closely with Denbighshire officers to find a tenant and credit is due to Rob Arthur who’s taken our comments on board and worked hard to ensure the Scala will reflect the needs of our community.

“Prestatyn councillors and Denbighshire County Council have developed a good working partnership to ensure Prestatyn is on the up.

“The Scala wil be a vital part of a range of attractions that will maintain and support our town centre, tourism and the wider community.”

Aurora Leisure was revealed as the new leaseholder of the Scala in March.

Mr Arthur, who was  born in Bathgate, added: “It is about listening to the customer and the community.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 23.06.15

Rhyl Journal: New owner of Prestatyn cinema confirms that complex will keep its name

THE new leaseholders of a Prestatyn cinema have reassured residents that the complex will retain its former name.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

New managers Aurora Leisure Ltd, whose founder is Robert Arthur, confirmed the intention is to retain the Scala name and “make sure that its historic significance to the town is enhanced.”

The complex is expected to open towards the end of May or early June. Work has not yet begun on the building.

Mr Arthur, aged 46, said: “We have not started to work on the building as yet as the Scala Trust have only recently surrendered their lease, but there is lots going on behind the scenes. At present there are no fully functioning projection facilities and that is our immediate priority. Our film booker is working on live events and a programme and our technical team is working to deliver new and improved projectors and sound.”

Mr Arthur added that he wanted to put on screening at times that suited all sections of the community. Plans include a Kids’ Club, family tickets, matinees and occasional “late night horrors”.

“We want to be the place to meet in town for a film, events or a coffee, supporting other businesses on the High Street by being open throughout the day,” he commented.

“There is a lot we need to do including recruitment of a new team and developing food and drink offers in the lobby.”

A public meeting will be held prior to the opening.

Source: Rhyl Journal article 30.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Legal advice sought over Prestatyn Scala’s unpaid ticket sales

Organisers of a St Asaph festival have sought legal advice over £13,000 in unpaid ticket sales.

Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)

The box office for the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph was run by the Scala Cinema in Prestatyn which closed its doors in January

Festival organisers claim the cinema has not handed over the thousands of pounds they collected on their behalf and are “determined” to recover monies owing to them.

Despite the dispute, this year’s event will go ahead. A concert launching the Festival will take place on September 20 while the festival itself runs from September 26 to October 3.

Sue Last, vice chair, said: “Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that the monies collected by the Scala has not been passed onto us. We are taking legal advice about the matter.”

“Denbighshire County Council have offered to give us a bridging loan if that is required as a temporary measure in the meantime.”

The programme for this year’s festival is being put together by Artistic Director Ann Atkinson. The festival was founded in 1972.

Ms Atkinson, a mezzo soprano, added: “The cathedral has a very special acoustic – the combination of the stone and the wood creates something really magical. Despite our difficulties, we are well on the way to putting together another excellent festival this year and we will be unveiling a stellar line up in the next couple of months.”

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that the loan was something that the authority was considering.

The spokesperson said: “We appreciate that the North Wales Music Festival is an important part of the cultural events calendar which attracts world class talent. We are in discussion with the organisers and considering their request.”

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema who expressed interest in taking on the Scala, commented:

“I feel there is something suspicious. It begs the questions what else do they owe?”

Rhiannon Hughes, former chair of the Scala Trust, said:

“The issues with the Music Festival are in the hands of our solicitors so it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 15 April 2015 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: New leaseholder has spoken about his vision for the cinema

The new leaseholder of a Prestatyn cinema has spoken about taking on a “community asset”.

Prestatyn Scala Cinema sign-age (Credit Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn Scala Cinema sign-age (Credit Rhyl Journal)

Rob Arthur, aged 46, who runs Aurora Leisure Ltd, said he was aware there was a “high level of expectation”.

He promised to create jobs for people from the area and to hold a public meeting, prior to re-opening the doors of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.

Aurora Leisure was revealed as the new leaseholder of the Scala earlier this month.

Mr Arthur, who established the company in 2012, was previously the managing director of Apollo Cinemas, overseeing an estate of 14 cinemas and 83 screens, until its sale in 2012.

In 2012, Mr Arthur – who is married with two children – re-opened and established a digital cinema in Thurso, Scotland to support the development of digital cinema and in mid-2013, he was appointed as interim director of operations at Curzon Cinemas, a London independent and art house cinema group.

The Bathgate-born director said:

“We are holding a public meeting, definitely before we open. It is about listening to the customer and the community. I know there has been a real interest in how this works and when the Scala closed.”

“We want to make it affordable and we would like to keep the live events going. Jobs created will be for local people and we will be making as many as we possibly can. We understand that it is a community asset.”

Mr Arthur added that he hoped to re-open the cinema next month.

“We are saying late April – we want to get it right,” he commented.”

“I know there was a big meeting when people were trying to save the cinema. We would like to see all those people who attended then, at our public meeting. When we are closer to re-opening, a date for the meeting will be announced.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 20.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan