Ribbon cut on reopened Light House

Tue, Jan 17, 2012, 00:00

The Light House cinema in Dublin, which closed in last April, will reopen this Friday under new management.

The cinema in Smithfield will now be operated by Element Pictures, best known as the production company which made The Guard and Garage. The company co-produced the Palme D’Or winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

The ribbon on the cinema was cut this morning.

It was a cause for double celebration as the writer-director of The Guard, John Michael McDonagh, has been nominated for a Bafta for best screenplay.

The Light House was originally opened in March 2008 but was closed by an order of the High Court last year because its operators claimed that they could not afford a doubling in the rent to €200,000 and they had arrears of €156,856.

Element co-owner Andrew Lowe said the rent they had negotiated with landlord John Flynn and with Nama was set at a more “sensible level that reflects what is going on in the property world”.

He added: “It is no secret that the original lease was a stepped lease which with the benefit of hindsight was unsustainable.

“The story of the Light House is the story of the country in a way. It opened in 2007 and the terms and conditions of their lease reflected the property bubble at the time.”

He said arthouse cinema was a “challenging” proposition and he hoped that the cinema, which has a cáfe facility, could be used for launches, exhibitions, conferences and the use of satellite technology to screen events such as live opera. “We need to create as many ancillary revenues as possible,” he said.

Friday’s programme will include the silent film The Artist, the biopic about former FBI chief J Edgar Hoover J Edgar and romantic drama W.E.

Element Pictures were involved in a tendering process for the cinema which was operated by the State through the Cultural Consortium compromising of the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board.

The State took over the tendering process because it spent €1.7 million fitting it out. The overall complex cost approximately €10 million and it was predominantly financed by Anglo-Irish Bank.

The tendering process to take over the Light house was not without controversy with rival bidder Curzon Cinemas, which is backed by U2 manager Paul McGuinness, claiming that they more experience in running such a cinema.

Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey said the reopening was an example of where state agencies and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had co-operated in getting the cinema up and running again.

“We’re very pleased that Element distribution is involved in running the cinema. This is the outcome of what was a long process, but was also a well-organised and good process.”

Landlord John Flynn, whose loan portfolio has been succumbed into Nama, said he believed Element Pictures was the right company to run the cinema.

“They are not just film makers. They are commercial, you can see that from The Guard,” he said. “Our dealings with them have been straight, forthright and amicable.”