THE FINAL CURTAIN FOR LOCAL CINEMA? Theatre Royal Latest in Long Line of Independent Picture Houses Falling by Wayside
Byline: Bethan Evans
FOR a nation which has championed independent cinemas since the 1950s, only 23 now remain in South Wales.
Last Thursday's decision to allow the demolition of the Theatre Royal in Barry to build 42 "extra-care" flats was the latest blow for independent cinemas in the area.
While 3D blockbusters stun audiences at the multiplex chains, the independent movie theatres of Cardiff are struggling to hold their place in the modern entertainment world.
Cardiff historian Brian Lee, of Pontprennau, feels the decline of independent cinemas means losing a great part of Cardiff's past.
"Cardiff has lost a lot if its character from the closing of cinemas," he said. "It's very sad to see them go."
One such beloved independent cinemas its fight against fierce competition was the Monico in Rhiwbina, previously run by Brian Bull, who also owned the Theatre Royal in Barry.
It was demolished in 2003 to make way for luxury flats after almost 70 years of entertaining the North Cardiff community.
Film critic Gary Slaymaker has fond memories of visiting the art deco cinema.
"I always remember the cinema brought in a lot of the big films and the manager was always so positive about movie-going," he said.
"This is important because to some people it's just a job. Smaller films are the depth and breadth of cinema-going and we need these places to show them. Independent cinemas make movie-going an event, there is something impersonal about the big chains."
Money is still being made in the cinema industry, but the pennies seem to be passed to multinational market leaders such as Odeon, Vue and Cineworld - all which have screens in Cardiff.
There seems to be little room for the small screens. But hope is not lost for the independent cinemas of Cardiff.
One centre which is beating back the competition is Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, which celebrated its 40th birthday last Friday. …