Upper Hutt Leader
The curtains have again come down again at Ascot Cinema and this time staff have been left out of pocket.
The four-screen complex first closed in September after building owners The Mall pulled the plug on previous operators. Australian operator Bob Bailey took up a lease in late December and had been showing back-catalogue movies over the holiday break.
However, an acrimonious disagreement between The Mall and Mr Bailey has put paid to the cinema for a second time.
Both parties have said very little about the closure and have refused to release details of the lease agreement.
The Mall property manager Glen Berich said the cinema’s closure was "a mutual agreement between us and Bob Bailey".
He said the decision to terminate the agreement with Mr Bailey was prompted by “it being the end of the school holidays and close to the end of the lease".
Mr Baily has disputed that claim. "It wasn't mutual at all," he said. "They have caused our company a lot of problems and it will be sorted."
The inability of the Ascot operators - or the cinema’s owners - to pay an industry bond for the rights to new-release films is also problematic.
The cinema closed last week and most of the eight local employees are still waiting to be paid. Most have not received wage since they began work when the cinema re-opened late last year.
Employees are owed about $1100 each.
Mr Bailey does not dispute that he owes his staff their entitlements and has promised they will be paid.
"My first obligation is to my staff. I have spoken to them and I have told them they will get every last cent."
The financial commitments around the re-opening of the cinema complex and its limited income when operating had led to financial problems, he said.
He also said he had been having difficulty with the banks in transferring funds from Australia.
"I don't rip anybody off and I stick by the people who support me."
"I hope to have it sorted by Monday," he said on Friday - but this did not happen.
Mr Bailey and Mr Bercich are, separately, indicating there will be a future for cinema in Upper Hutt.
"We are now closed for the near future," Mr Bailey said on the Ascot Facebook page.
"We are moving location to elsewhere in Upper Hutt. More information will be coming soon."
- Upper Hutt Leader