Screens and auditorium to be maintained under revised plans for St Andrews cinema revamp

Screens and auditorium to be maintained under revised plans for St Andrews cinema revamp

The public is being given the chance to view revised proposals for the New Picture House Cinema in St Andrews through a newly produced video and website.

In response to community feedback, two out of three screens, including the main auditorium, are to be retained as part of T-Squared Social’s proposals for the cinema, which will maintain the same New Picture House name.

Backed by Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods, T-Squared Social is seeking to deliver a family-friendly, blended cinema, dining and entertainment offering, establishing the New Picture House as a social hub for St Andrews while saving the historic building and beloved cinema.

The video and website outline revised proposals for the cinema, which will also highlight the answers to some frequently asked questions, with a planning application shortly to be submitted to Fife Council. Initial plans for the site were unveiled back in 2023.

The cinema in St Andrews has not been viable for the past number of years and like many other cinemas, is in steep decline, running at under 10% occupancy. The New Picture House was therefore faced with a decision to close or adapt, hence the involvement of T-Squared Social.

This decline has been due to a perfect storm of factors, including the cost-of-living crisis, and a rise in energy prices. There has also been a reduction in commercially successful Hollywood and independent film content, with people’s viewing habits fundamentally changing as more is now directly available on streaming services such as Netflix.

Screens and auditorium to be maintained under revised plans for St Andrews cinema revamp

Working with a team of architects and contractors much of the New Picture House, which is a listed building and dates from the 1930s, will remain the same. Any renovations and enhancements will be made to the interior, not the exterior, preserving and celebrating the building, including the name above the door.

Christopher Anand, managing partner for T-Squared Social, said: “We have listened to the residents of St. Andrews and are delighted to be announcing our intention to increase the number of screens, including retaining the main auditorium. With our new entertainment concept, sitting alongside the cinema, this will ensure that a cinema offering can remain in the town for this and for generations to come.

“In addition, the development will deliver a significant economic investment in the town, with 40-50 staff employed, an increase on the current 10, who will also be given the opportunity to stay with the new venture.

“We urge local people to view our website, which has a video on our proposals highlighting our proposals, and to contact us should they have any questions.”

One of the screens will be maintained in its present form (cinema 3), with improvements made to the seating and technology to improve the viewing experience. Current seating in Cinema 2 will be replaced with comfortable seat groupings, allowing people to socialise, with an area for electronic darts.

The main auditorium (cinema 1) will retain the large screen, still showing films, and as a multi-functional space will include a range of sports simulators including golf, rugby, lacrosse and football. The seating here will be entirely flexible, allowing the aspect of the seats to change depending on the use of the auditorium on a day-to-day basis.

Screens and auditorium to be maintained under revised plans for St Andrews cinema revamp

The character of the auditorium is also being protected with existing ceiling, walls and stage features retained. Responding to the public the much-loved upper level of the cinema will be staying as it is today, with over 300 seats retained in the venue for cinema-goers.

David Morris, the managing director for New Picture House, will stay and manage the transition to the new venture.

He commented: “This intervention by T-Squared not only allows a cinema offering to be retained for the town, but indeed the building itself. This was not a decision we took lightly, and we felt that this was the right company to preserve what we have built up over almost 100 years.

“I am delighted to be personally working with T-Squared Social to support the transition of the business to the new venture.”

Wendy Chamberlain MP added: “I have met with representatives from both T-Squared Social and the managing director of the New Picture House to discuss their proposals for the cinema and to share community concerns in relation to initial reports.

“The video provides information on the proposals for the future development of the cinema. I know that these have been revised to take into account feedback from the community, in particular the increase in screens being retained from one to two.

“Please do watch the video to find out more about what is being proposed.”

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