Future of Jersey's only cinema secured until at least 2027 after Cineworld agrees new lease

The Jersey cinema has been a prominent feature of St Helier's waterfront since it opened in 2002. Credit: ITV Channel TV

The Channel Islands' only multiplex cinema is set to remain open until at least 2027 after Cineworld agreed to a new lease.

Under its new deal with the Jersey Development Company, the world's second-largest cinema chain will continue to rent the St Helier site until June 2032 - but with an option to pull out from 2027 if the multiplex cinema isn't making enough money from admissions.

It comes after the company suspended shares and filed for bankruptcy in the United States, allowing it to restructure its business - closing cinemas which weren't making money and renegotiating terms with landlords.

Jersey's Cineworld first opened its doors in December 2002 as part of St Helier's Waterfront Centre and has been popular with moviegoers over the years.

Cineworld opened in Jersey in 2002 Credit: ITV Channel TV

It was forced to close its doors during the Covid-19 pandemic but has struggled with empty seats since.

The cinema chain has seen a gradual increase in attendance since reopening last year, but earlier this year reported that recent admissions were lower than hoped as a 'limited film slate' failed to draw customers through its doors.

Prior to its closure, Cineworld employed around 30 staff at its 10-screen St Helier multiplex and saw 280,000 visits in 2019.

That dropped to just 180,000 visits in 2022, leading to the cinema falling behind on its rent.

The JDC, which owns the Waterfront Centre, said it needed to be flexible in order to retain an operating cinema on the island.

It says it agreed to waive some of Cineworld's rent arrears in exchange for the cinema chain making a longer-term commitment to the island, extending its lease.

The future of the Waterfront Centre currently remains uncertain, as the JDC eventually plans to demolish the leisure complex as part of an extensive redevelopment of the southwest of St Helier.

Plans for a redevelopment of the south west of St Helier included a smaller 'arthouse cinema' Credit: Jersey Development Company

The JDC - which is entirely owned by Jersey's government - bought the leisure complex from its previous owner in 2018 for £17.3 million.

At the time of the purchase, the company said there wouldn't be any changes to the Waterfront's existing use until at least 2027 - as the existing sub-leases on the site run until then.

However, since then, once popular venues like The Bar and Pizza Hut have closed their doors - leaving much of the 3.6-acre site empty.

At the time the restructuring was announced, Cineworld's plans effectively wiped out shareholders in order to support the business's lenders and creditors.But it stressed the move would not impact the British operations for the holding company, with all 128 cinemas continuing to remain open as usual.

The JDC says it will work with Cineworld to ensure the Jersey cinema will remain open ahead of the site being redeveloped, but warned islanders must "use the facility more than they currently do to ensure their local cinema multiplex is not forced to close."

From June 2027, if Jersey's Cineworld is not making enough from ticket sales to remain commercially viable, the cinema chain will be able to pull out.

Kevin Frost, Cineworld's property director said: "We are grateful to the Jersey Development Company for working with us on the commercial terms to have found a way, together, to keep the local cinema multiplex open and trading for at least the next four years, and hopefully another five after that."

Lee Henry, the JDC's chief executive said: "We are pleased to have reached [an] agreement with Cineworld to retain the island’s cinema multiplex operation for the foreseeable future.

"The fact that the majority of objections to our future plans for the Waterfront referenced the closure of the cinema highlights the importance of the facility to islanders.

"It was incumbent upon us as a government-owned company to facilitate the island’s community and not simply maximise profit."

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