AFTER a six-year community fight, the Regal Cinema will once again open its doors to Hunter movie fans.
Newcastle City Council will on Friday hand the keys of the Birmingham Gardens property to a community trust.
The cinema closed in 2006 when the building was declared unsafe.
After a public campaign to save the property, earmarked for sale, a working party of community members and council and film representatives reached a compromise.
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After Friday’s handover, renovations will begin, using a $141,700 state government grant through Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery’s office.
The cinema is expected to open early next year.
Friends of the Regal spokesman David Horkan said it was proposed to operate an arthouse cinema from Friday to Sunday, and use the other four days of the week for film industry and community events.
Discussions with potential operators had generated a great deal of interest, he said.
Mr Horkan is a trust director along with Australian Guild of Screen Composers executive director Jo Smith and Shoot Out film festival co-founder Kristi Street.Ms Smith gathered support from screen industry identities in the push to re-establish the cinema.
She said the Regal building was a gem.
“Places like this are an important part of a city’s culture, there are many places to enjoy the mainstream cinema experience but very few cinemas like this operate any more,’’ she said.
‘‘These cinemas are essential to the health of the Australian film industry and enable people in regional Australia to have access to a diverse range of films.”