Big screen coming to Balclutha

Screening a new beginning . . . Grace and Chris Rottenberry are opening a new cinema in Balclutha’s new community hub, expected to be completed in July this year. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

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A husband and wife duo is introducing flair in the name of film to Balclutha.

Newly local Kaitangata residents Chris and Grace Rottenberry have some exciting news for locals — a new permanent movie theatre will be included in the town’s new Clutha Community Hub.

The couple who hail from Australia had been looking for a grand opportunity to establish their business in South Otago, and when they came across Balclutha, they felt they would bring a dream to reality.

‘‘We really did just dream up the idea at first, and thought it would be cool to set up shop somewhere.

‘‘That was before we realised Balclutha was one of the only smaller towns that didn’t have some sort of cinema. You’d have to go to Gore or Dunedin to watch a movie,’’ Mr Rottenberry said.

‘‘We thought of setting up on Clyde St somewhere, but then we inquired about the massive random building that was under construction through the Clutha District Council, who helped us from there and the rest is history.’’

The young couple, who have a 2-year-old son Elijah and a new family addition arriving in April, are excited to bring something new and permanent to the district.

‘‘We feel it’ll become an asset to many locals, old and young,’’ Mr Rottenberry said.

The last permanent movie theatre in Balclutha was the Old Britannia Theatre, which was sold in 1955 to Canterbury Theatre Investments Ltd. The theatre stopped screening in about the 1970s when Kaitangata Lingerie was established in the building, located between Floral Giftworld and City Impact Church in Balclutha. The building was demolished in 2010.

Since then, nothing permanent has come of theatres in Balclutha until now.

‘‘We’re going to start off with blockbuster films and feel out our local audience and go from there.’’

They are planning a 2m high and 5m wide screen for viewing and 7.1 surround sound, 32 premium seats and three two-seater couches, along with snacks and drinks. Extended hot food and further plans are in the works.

Viewing times had yet to be confirmed but the cinema would be open on weekdays and at weekends, Mr Rottenberry said.

The cinema would open once the community hub officially opened, which is expected to be in July.

Mr Rottenberry said the first film to be screened would be the new Mission Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One film.

‘‘One thing we want to establish is keeping local with products and being eco friendly. We have digital laser projection which is kinder to the environment, and we’ll involve local businesses to keep everyone happy,’’ he said.

Updates and more information can be found on The Riviera Cinema Balclutha Facebook page, or coming soon to the Clutha Leader.