Saving our theatre

Regent Theatre Allan said the last year during the pandemic has been the toughest in 47-years of running the Regent. Photo / Blair Voorend


By Blair Voorend

Te Awamutu is rallying around one of the community’s longest standing institutions, the Regent Theatre.

The theatre was pushed to the brink as a consequence of the Covid impact.

But residents have responded by backing a Give-A-Little page which has left owner-operator Allan Webb “very much overwhelmed”.

“I was a bit sceptical about the idea when it was first brought to me but looking at our situation, I thought we might not make it to Easter,” he said.

The page raised over $2000 from just under 60 donations after its first two days.

“It’s very much overwhelming to see the support from people and so many of them willing to help out, I just can’t thank them enough.”

Brooke Adler, who set up the page, has been working at the theatre since 2017 and said that both Allan and the theatre add so much value to the community that it is worth saving.

“I know how much the theatre means to Allan, and to what extent he would go to keep it running,” she said.

“He is a very giving person, and it was about time he was on the receiving end.”

Over his 47-years of running the Regent Theatre Allan said the last year during the pandemic has been the toughest and almost been the “last nail in the coffin” for the cinema.

He was forced to have the theatre closed for four months over the nationwide lockdown early last year and since then has seen his revenue plummet with very few new movies being released.

“Over that four-month closure period it cost us $33,000 just to pay the bills and since then we have been making a third of what we normally would do,” he said.

“In busy holiday periods in a good week we used to make anything between $25,000 and $30,000, but now in the same periods we are lucky to get anything between $2,000 and $6,000.”

With the entire film industry hurting film companies haven’t been able to lower its hiring fees putting more pressure on small cinema owners.

Allan says that on average 46.5% of each ticket sold goes towards hiring the film he shows.

The cinema is currently the longest running theatre in New Zealand, reaching its 90-year milestone in 2022, which Brooke says is a testament to Allan’s passion for cinema.

“I can speak for many people that this theatre is very special and nostalgic, and deserves to stick around for many more years,” she said.

“I have been coming to the cinema ever since I was a child, and I would love for my children to see it the way I did.”

The page can be found at – search for Regent Theatre Te Awamutu.

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