Taumarunui's cinema goes digital

Erl Riches has owned the Regent Cinema in Taumarunui for 30 years. He hopes with the recent digital development, the ...
Steph Rangi/FAIRFAX

Erl Riches has owned the Regent Cinema in Taumarunui for 30 years. He hopes with the recent digital development, the movie theater will become the go-to place.

With more shop doors closing lately, the future of Taumarunui has been looking rather bleak.

But with the Regent Cinema going fully digital, the small town may now be keeping up with the times and have something to look forward to.

As of tomorrow, the Regent Cinema will be screening recent release movies after their full digital upgrade.

With the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) costing tens of thousands of dollars, the cinema owners Erl and Noelene Riches, have high hopes the community will support the recent investment.

"We have 330 seats but we haven't filled them in a little while," Erl Riches said.

"We just hope the investment will be worthwhile."

Many multiplexes around New Zealand received their DCP a couple of years ago but Riches said the $200,000 cost of it back then was phenomenal.

Because of that high cost, Riches had to stay with the E Cinema package which meant he'd have to wait until movies were almost out on DVD before being able to screen them.

"It was a catch 22 situation," he said.

"We couldn't get the films so people stopped coming and because of that we had to cut down the hours.

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"But now, if people keep supporting us, we will hopefully stay open more."

Riches took over the cinema 30 years ago. He remembers the times when the seats were full and how there were six or seven reels per movie he had to work with.

The 80-year-old Regent Cinema first opened in March 21, 1935 to a full house of 700. Since then, the screen has been brought forward and seat numbers cut back to 330 but the cinema still remains one of the largest in the country.

With this new upgrade, Riches plans to bring about the change that will keep him up in business and give the people of Taumarunui something to be excited about.

The first movie to be screened in digital is Taika Waititi's latest record-breaking box office release Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

 - Stuff

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