Owner adamant movies could return to Oamaru

The former Limelight Cinema building in Oamaru, which its owner says can house a viable movie...
The former Limelight Cinema building in Oamaru, which its owner says can house a viable movie theatre business. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Oamaru can sustain a movie theatre - but not one that shows movies seven days a week, the owner of the former Limelight Cinema building says.

Gerard Auckram is prepared to stump-up $100,000 to re-establish the theatre in a bid to sell and maintain the use of the property, which has been on the market for six months.

"The advice I have been given is that it would need to be run ...Wednesday to Sunday at night and during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday," Mr Auckram said.

"If someone writes up a really good business plan and is not running it seven days a week, it would work ... by just making it a bit simpler."

The cinema closed on October 25 last year. Patrons were initially told the four-screen cinema was closed for "maintenance", but a spokesman for the owner's family later told the Otago Daily Times it shut due to the business owner's illness.

Mr Auckram put the 850sq m property on the market about six months ago, but was yet to find a buyer at the listed price of $550,000 plus GST.

Mr Auckram, who is based in Dunedin, said he would contribute $100,000 of his own money to re-establish the building as a movie theatre, by either using the money to buy equipment to open one cinema screen immediately, or as a deposit to buy gear for all four cinemas.

Seating was still in place.

Living outside Oamaru was the main reason he wanted to sell up, he said.

"Sometimes, buildings like that are better when they are owned by a local person."

There had been interest from several buyers, the majority of whom were from outside Oamaru. However, most wanted an existing tenant in the building.

The large foyer could easily be transformed into a cafe or gaming area, or potentially offer a "virtual reality" experience, he said.

As far as the cinemas themselves, he said two could be opened to show movies and the third had the potential to be used for theatre productions.

A lease term was also an option in the form of a six-month "rent holiday" if it meant the building was occupied, he said.

The complex was built in 2004.

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