Initial reports from Palace, which operates the Academy Twin, suggest that audiences are healthy, which I'm glad to hear. The decision to close the cinema in nine days would appear to be entirely due to unrealistically high rental fees and renovation costs set by the owners, the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney.
Some film lovers are talking about starting a campaign to "save the Academy Twin". I'm not convinced this has a chance, but if there's even the slimmest hope for something like this to work it has to be aimed at direct and/or indirect pressure on the building's owners.
Chances of the Sydney City Council bailing out the cinema are surely close to zero - the council already did this four years ago when the Chauvel, a few 100 yards up the road from the Academy Twin, was slated for closure after a rapid and disastrous drop in audiences. The council eventually concluded a deal to re-open the cinema with new operators, Palace. I can hardly see the council responding directly when Palace already owns two other cinema chains within the same strip of Oxford Street (the third being the four-screen Verona).
Still, the council is in charge of zoning applications and other legal requirements for public entertainment. Is there, I wonder, a way in which the council could exert pressure on the owners indirectly? Or do such thoughts amount to pissing in the wind? Just thinking aloud. All thoughts and suggestions welcome.
PALACE CINEMAS MEDIA RELEASE:
FINAL CURTAIN FOR ACADEMY TWIN CINEMA
With much regret, and considerable sadness and disappointment, Palace Cinemas regrettably announces the closure of the Academy Twin, one of Sydney’s original and most beloved two-screen arthouse cinemas.
Discussions over the future tenancy with the building’s owner, the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney, have been ongoing over several years. Palace put several highly considered and dynamic proposals to the landlord to keep the Academy open, including plans for renovation and expansion, however the parties were unable to reach agreement.
Palace Cinemas Managing Director and founder Antonio Zeccola said “We’re devastated to be saying goodbye to the Academy. For over 30 years it has been one of Sydney’s most popular destinations for foreign language and arthouse cinema – it’s a genuine institution and a part of so many Sydneysiders’ movie memories.
"It is an incredible shame that we are unable to reach an agreement that would help keep the Academy open. We’d like to offer our sincere gratitude and thanks to all of the Academy’s patrons over the years, and also to the past and present staff.”
Palace will continue to cater to city and eastern suburbs patrons at the Verona and Chauvel Cinemas also on Oxford Street, where the company’s commitment to delivering sophisticated and high-quality entertainment and hospitality, in venues that offer the utmost in comfort and ambience is ensured.
The curtains will close at the Academy Twin for the final time on Sunday 27 June.
Sydney Morning Herald story here.
Dark Habits blogpost with interviews with key players here