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Lights, camera, action…. as historic art deco cinema goes up for sale

Tags: Commercial

One of the country’s last remaining arty deco cinema buildings and multi-screen movie complexes – with a colourful history replicating decades of life in provincial New Zealand - has been placed on the market for sale.


The historic Capitol Cinema in the Bay of Plenty township of Te Puke dates back to 1929, and over the subsequent decades has gone on to become one of New Zealand’s most innovative cinema operations – now capable of running four movies simultaneously in its four separate theatres.

In 1930 – when the Capitol screened its first ‘talkie’ movie – the cinema had what was believed to be the tallest movie screen in the Southern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, a large doorway on one side of the stage enabled travelling circus elephants to enter for their live shows which were hugely popular among the population during the ‘30s and ‘40s.

The Capitol was also used for local fundraising events, and in 1931 a Monster Earthquake Relief Concert was held to raise money for the disaster-struck residents of Hawke’s Bay. In 1945, a Victory Ball for VJ (Victory in Japan) Day was held at the Capitol, where scores of soldiers from the Eastern Bay of Plenty were officially welcomed home by the community.

In 1947, more than 800 people from across the region packed into the Capitol to present ‘tokens of appreciation’ to some 174 returned servicemen and women. Each ‘token of appreciation’ was an envelope containing £17.

Over the ensuing years, the Capitol Cinema was the centre of Te Puke’s social scene – with the Te Puke Boxing Association using the venue to stage bouts, the annual Returned Services Association holding its debutante balls, and fundraising dances and musical concerts held for the town’s Memorial Hall.

In 1954 the Capitol was the first New Zealand cinema to be adapted to ‘cinemascope’ widescreen movies. In 2003 the Capitol was among the first cinemas in the world to screen Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King – when it rolled the film at one minute after midnight.

Two years later the Capitol Cinema was among the first venues in the world to screen Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith which was again screened at one minute after midnight. In 2009, the installation of a 3D system at the Capitol Cinema meant the theatre was the only one of its kind outside of Auckland to have such cutting-edge technology.

The Capitol Cinema’s four theatres range in capacity from a boutique 20-seater venue, up to the block-buster 200-seater playhouse. In total, the four cinemas have a combined capacity of 413 viewers.

Now the freehold land, buildings and going concern Capitol Cinema business at 127 – 133 Jellicoe Street in central Te Puke are being marketed for sale by Bayleys Tauranga, with offers closing on November 30.

Bayleys Tauranga salesperson Brendon Bradley said that in addition to the anchor Capitol Cinema premises and business, the commercially-zoned Jellicoe Street block for sale included two additional commercial tenancies. Jellicoe Street is Te Puke’s primary retail and commercial route

Dairy and grocery store operator Mayfair Ice Cream Parlour is currently on a lease expiring next year with two further three-year rights of renewal, occupying a 160 square metre shop which generates annual rent of $20,350.

Meanwhile, horticultural contracting business Dosanjh Horticulture is currently on a lease expiring in 2020 with a further three-year right of renewal, occupying a 60 square metre office space which generates annual rental of $11,000.

Mr Bradley said that combined, the properties at 127 – 133 Jellico Street consisted of 1,354 square metres sitting on some 1,079 square metres of land. He said the Capitol Cinema ranked alongside a handful of other great New Zealand movie houses of its construction period – such as the Victoria and the Hollywood in Auckland, the majestic in Taihape, the Regent in Te Awamutu, the Dome in Gisborne, and the Roxy in Wellington.

“The Capitol has been a landmark in Te Puke for generations – most recently for its cinematic offerings. By always keeping abreast of cinemograph technological evolutions in the global industry, and leading movie-goer viewing habits, the Capitol has remained a profitable entity at a time when similar operations in the big cities have wavered,” Mr Bradley said.

“The Capitol Cinema has the largest mega screen movie complex in the Bay of Plenty, as well as both digital and 3D technology.

“From a business perspective, cinema-goers are now seeking a complete entertainment package - and there is the opportunity for any new business owner/operator to reconfigure the venue’s food and beverage options to create a ‘gold class’ luxury experience.

“There is currently an unused candy, ice cream and beverage service counter on the first floor which could be refurbished and converted into a licensed bar capable of serving the likes of tapas or chiller cabinet food to derive greater revenues around the core cinematic business.”

The cinematic business is being sold with chattels including the projectors and screens, commercial-grade air conditioning units, and all office equipment.

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