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Wellington’s movie street loses another cinema

It was the street that brought the Lord of the Rings premieres to life about two decades ago, but now Wellington’s Courtenay Place leaves a gap for movie buffs.

Photo: Google Streetview

Reading Cinemas suddenly announced on Saturday it was closing its building because of the earthquake risk.

A draft engineering report prompted the move and now further investigations are being carried out.

Tenants inside the Reading complex, which includes food stalls, a McDonalds, a pharmacy, post shop and an ANZ bank branch, scrambled on Saturday morning to put up closed signs.

After the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016, the Reading Cinemas carpark was damaged and had to be demolished.

The building was then renovated before opening again.

Down the road in 2017, the Paramount movie theatre – Wellington’s oldest cinema – shut its doors after a century due to its lease running out.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said the loss of Reading Cinemas leaves a big gap for movie fans.

“Yes it will impact – but it will only impact for a short period of time – however long it takes to either fix it, or take it down and build new,” he said.

He said the assessment work could take months to complete.

“Until the engineers get in there and actually do a thorough investigation – which will probably mean taking parts of the building apart to actually view it – they won’t actually be able to come up with a final outcome,” he said.

City councillor Iona Pannett said officials would meet with Reading staff later this week.

She said there were many unanswered questions.

“They’ve had engineers in and out of that building for the last couple of years so they’ve got some new information… obviously there will be some questions about the long-term future of the building,” she said.

Reading Cinemas has not returned RNZ’s requests for an interview.

Its post on social media said the building would stay shut while the engineering work takes place.

RNZ / Jonathan Mitchell