Town Council exploring options to bring back The Rex cinema

rex

Wilmslow Town Council has agreed to explore the options for turning the Rex building back into a cinema as well as an arts and community space.

Speaking at the town council meeting on Monday, 19th February, Councillor Angela McPake said "One of the major things coming out of the Neighbourhood Plan in terms of the town centre was the fact there isn't actually a 'centre' in the town anymore and, if you were going to have a focal point, then that should be at the junction of Alderley Road and Water Lane i.e. where the Rex is.

"When it was announced that Multiyork was in administration, it quickly became the biggest story of the year in terms of public comment on wilmslow.co.uk. Very few of those comments were about Multiyork, many more were about how nice it would be to have a cinema and/or a community space back in the centre of the town."

Before Christmas Wilmslow Town Council wrote to the landlord expressing their interest in the future of the building, for possible use as a community arts-led space.

At that stage the Multiyork administrator was obligated to try and find someone to take on the remainder of the lease and had found a retailer to do that. However, 10 days ago the landlord informed the Town Council that the deal had fallen through and the administrator had now surrendered the lease back to the landlord.

Councillor Angela McPake said "They were now looking for a new tenant and were happy to consider a community arts led space utilising the existing cinema."

A group has also been set up on Facebook specifically with an interest in resurrecting the Rex as a cinema and community arts space which has over 2000 members.

Councillor Angela McPake continued "Clearly we are a very long way from having anything that looks like a firm plan but we are asking for permission to scope out options by speaking to anyone we believe we need to scope out those various options. That includes but isn't limited to the landlords agents, possible commercial partners, community groups, property and funding professionals.

"At this stage we have no idea how big a role we would need to take to make this a possibility. We need to work with anyone who is interested to see whether we can bring this to fruition. We clearly need to cost any options and come back to the council with that information to decide if we can do something and whether there is an appetite to do that."

Wilmslow Town Council will now enter into discussions with resident's groups, potential commercial partners and property agents regarding The Rex building and its potential as a cinema, arts and community space.

Cllr Frank McCarthy said "I had mixed views on this to start with because I am aware that the amount of money that's probably going to be involved. Though last week the Town Council were invited to have a look around the area and I was quite amazed to walk in to the old Rex cinema there it was with 330 seats still intact covered in dust."

Would you like to see The Rex building restored as a cinema and arts complex? Please share your views via the comment box below.

Tags:
The Rex, Wilmslow Town Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Russell
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 6:29 pm
Just an idea. We have an expert not ten miles away in knutsford we could utilise. It’s must be nigh on impossible to run a community cinema when going up against odeon et al. Yet the one in knutsford seems to do it. Why not approach them to see if they can run the business or at the very least offer ideas?
Richard Kaberry
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 6:32 pm
A cinema would be great. Would benefit the town’s economy too as people would go for a meal or a drink then to watch a movie.
Suzanne Metcalfe
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 7:38 pm
The Rex becoming a cinema again would be fantastic for Wilmslow and the surrounding area. The cinema in marple does well and it brings trade to local restaurants.
Jon Williams
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 8:58 pm
Mark R is correct about the cinema in Knutsford, they know what they are doing, unlike a local Town Council, but I think if the Curzon group wanted it, they would have had it before now.
In 2015 Curzon Cinemas became the first independent cinema group in the UK to pay the Living Wage.
In February 2017 the Curzon group received the prestigious award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the British Academy Film Awards.
They have been in the cinema industry since 1934 and have thirteen venues across the UK and they are designed and furnished individually as well as being equipped with superior cinema technology.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 9:32 pm
I’m with Mark and Jon on this one. Surely if it were a simple matter of cleaning the place up, staffing and running the upstairs cinema, this could have happened years ago as it, seemingly, does not intrude into the failed furniture store or the Rev.
Apart from the over-priced sofa store having gone bust, what has changed?
I seriously hope that WTC do not blunder into this one- that’s not what they were set up for.
Curzon have a wealth of experience in running “niche” cinemas, if anyone can make this work it is them but... they have shown no interest since the Rex closed, so... fools rush in where wise men fear to tread, perhaps?
Stephanie Addison
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 10:36 pm
I absolutely LOVE the I’d ea of the rebirth of the Rex cinema again! Local traditional cinemas have so much more to offer in terms of the overall experience as opposed to the multiplexes and have become hugely popular over the last few years. It is likely to draw a significant increase in people coming to Wilmslow and along with that brings welcome trade to the bars and restaurants.
There is an obvious little challenge with regards to additional car parking capacity but if it can be pulled off I think this venture could be a huge success.
David Jefferay
Tuesday 20th February 2018 at 11:02 pm
Pete, Mark and Jon,
Wtc isn't rushing into anything but, given the local interest in the Rex, it would be remiss of us not to check if it is viable (which will include getting the right advice and getting the right partners on board). If it turns out to be too expensive or risky then at least we've looked at and made an informed decision.
Having visited it, my thoughts are that it is a huge (and therefore expensive) space which probably couldn't be supported by just a single screen cinema so the likes of Curzon, if they have looked at it, may have concluded that it wasn't for them. Likewise, just as a retail unit there is a lot of wasted space in the building so a retail organisation may struggle to justify the cost. However, it could well be feasible as a mixed use facility with diverse income streams if Wtc can facilitate that.
David Pearce
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 10:23 am
Maybe Curzon could be persuaded to make a joint venture/investment together with the North West based Revolution Bar group. This substantial operation which already occupies part of the Rex building could see a financial stake in an adjacent cinema business which would prove mutually beneficial as a business model?
John Simpson
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 4:51 pm
A cinema in Wilmslow would be a fantastic asset for the town .
Diana Beech
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 5:07 pm
Having lived in Wilmslow for 37 years I remember the Rex as a theatre and then a cinema. Young and old enjoyed this local facility. Today it would make a wonderful entertainment centre. Knutsford seems able to support a small cinema. Why can’t Wilmslow?
Diana Beech
Sue Levy
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 6:59 pm
Like all previous comments. It would be brilliant to have a cinema in Wilmslow once again. Easy access, easy parking, and not having to drive to Knutsford, Altrincham or Didsbury. What’s not to like?
Christine McClory
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 8:46 pm
It’s great to hear all this interest and enthusiasm.The Rex Revival Group (Facebook) has been working on this for some time and, with over 2,000 supporters behind us, are hoping to work in coordination with both Wilmslow Town Council, and the Neighbourhood Planning Group. We have contacted potential investors and will release information to the press when we are a little further along the line. We intend to be in contact with all Wilmslow groups and societies for their opinions, and hope to hold a public meeting in March.
All support is very welcome. Thanks
Terry Roeves
Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 10:00 am
There are approx 40 car parking spaces by the Curzon in Knutsford. For a full house, get there early.
We will be fine for an evening performance, but for a matinee? I think not.
Also remember the time limit, if you do find a space at the front.
Julie Green
Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 5:46 pm
Would Cinemac owners be interested in running it?
Gina Thompson
Friday 23rd February 2018 at 11:31 am
It would be wonderful for the Rex to open again. It would give a boost to the towns pubs, bars and restaurants. I hope this venture succeeds.
Martin Kitchin
Monday 26th February 2018 at 7:49 pm
Another alternative would be the vacant Energie leisure premises here on Summerfields Village. It is just off the A34 and a few miles out of Wilmslow town centre.

The building is in good condition, in the middle of an existing and growing residential area; it has lots of on-site free parking (day and night) and of course, it comes already designated for recreation and leisure use by Cheshire East

It offers a huge upstairs area which could be adapted to a cinema / arts / community / concert space accessible by lift; keep the pool as a community asset & maybe re-open & let the empty retail units to small start up units. 

There's even a cafe area, a smart reception and three sizeable studio rooms which could become exercise : keep fit space.

Over the road there's a welcoming family friendly bar & restaurant which is supplemented by two great cafes / takeaways. Ideal for meal times.

Lidl Gmbh would stay where they are. Maybe moving their store room into the roof to create ground floor space for the wider aisles, the bigger staff room, the customer loos and the packing areas and the more 'bakery lines'.
Tony Haluradivth
Tuesday 27th February 2018 at 10:41 am
Ryan Dance you seem to delight in taking the (minority) contrary view on many threads on here. Presumably you do it just to wind your fellow Wilmslow residents ....an interesting hobby indeed;(