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

Daily Post: New dawn for Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema and Arts Centre

The complex, which will create around 20 new jobs, will reopen as a community cinema under a new leaseholder this week

A new curtain will mark a new dawn when a community cinema reopens later this week.

The Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn will be transformed into a “hub for the benefit of the community” with the creation of up to 20 new jobs.

Its delayed unveiling, set to take place on Friday, follows issues with paperwork and updating old equipment.

But the High Street complex is almost ready to impress with the introduction of Sony’s latest Digital Cinema 4K projectors and a new satellite for streaming live events.

Rob Arthur, the lease holder of the Prestatyn Scala cinema (Credit: Daily Post)
Rob Arthur, the lease holder of the Prestatyn Scala cinema (Credit: Daily Post)

New leaseholder, Rob Arthur from Aurora Leisure Ltd said his company’s takeover will mark a “new dawn” for the attraction, which suffered a tarnished past before closing down in January.

Today he engaged with members of the community during a series of public events to find out what people want from their cinema.

He revealed the venue will re-open “gradually from the bottom up” – starting with the box office and screens – while ideas for some of the other facilities are thrashed out.

He said: “Our intention is to ensure the Scala is a welcoming, vibrant and exciting addition to the High Street and is there to serve the community, providing exactly the kinds of entertainment and facilities for as many groups as possible. That is why we want to hold these public meetings so that we start off on the right foot from the word go.”

The Scala, which offers two 150-seat auditoria, live performance space, dining and conference facilities and a media suite, will become “more like a traditional cinema” with reasonably priced tickets and packages for families, pensioners and children.

The image quality will be four times better than the previous projection equipment and will also enable 3D and the booking of live events.

There are also plans for a film festival later this year and local projects will be showcased at the start of film screenings.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post March 2015)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post March 2015)

“It’s an absolute travesty that the Scala was closed but already, we’ve provided £125,000 of immediate investment and have allocated capital where we think it is needed,” said Mr Arthur, who has a prominent theatre-led background.

“We want to create something more engaging, different to what we already have here in the town.”

“It will probably take between six and nine months to get everything finished (upstairs cafe, bar, conference facilities) how we want them to be but we want to get it right.”

The 115-year-old building, which started life as a town hall, was saved from the scrapheap by passionate community campaigners, calling for it to be restored to its former glory after structural issues forced it to close in 2000.

In 2007, its future was safeguarded by what became the Friends of Scala group.

But the venue hit turbulent times and had outstanding debts of around £180,000 by the time it closed in January.

Cllr Bob Paterson, Mayor of Prestatyn Town Council, said: “The Scala is one of the most iconic cinemas in Wales and one of the main focal points on Prestatyn’s high street – we are looking forward to it reopening and welcome the work that Rob is doing to engage with the community. The Scala will become a central part of our town’s vibrant events’ programme so we are delighted it is in such good hands.”

Source: Daily Post news article 01.07.15 by Kelly Williams | Video courtesy of Daily Post

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: 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