| 3.1°C Dublin

Film company to switch lights back on at city cinema

THE production house behind movies such as 'The Guard' and 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' is set to reopen a popular arthouse cinema that closed down last year.

Element Pictures will reopen the Light House Cinema, which closed in Dublin's Smithfield in April of last year with the loss of 20 jobs.

The venture will mark the production house's first foray into showing films.

Element pipped major British-based arthouse cinema operator Curzon, which put in a rival bid.

Element yesterday advertised for staff for a new cinema and is expected to make an official announcement within the next fortnight.

It was chosen following extensive negotiations with the landlord of the building -- developer John Flynn of Fusano Properties.

The Light House was shut down in April of last year by a High Court order, after its operators Neil Connolly and Maretta Dillon were unable to pay the rent on the premises.

A Facebook campaign was subsequently launched to try to save the cinema.

Local TD Joe Costello said last year that the cinema's closure would turn the Smithfield area into "a ghost town".

Yesterday he welcomed the announcement, describing it as "brilliant news for the Irish film industry and Smithfield".

Rival bidder Curzon operates several cinemas in London and counts U2 manager Paul McGuinness among its investors.

Its chief executive, Philip Knatchbull, told the Irish Independent he was "surprised and disappointed" that a substantial offer the company had made to open the cinema had been turned down.

"Our bid ticked all the boxes; we were ready to open the cinema last June or July, so we don't really understand why we were shot down," he said.

Element Pictures is a 10-year-old production house with offices in Dublin and London. The company, which is run by Andrew Lowe and Ed Guiney, expanded into film distribution five years ago.

Alongside Irish film and drama, it distributes about 225 feature films in Ireland each year, produced by European film company Studio Canal.

The company would not comment when contacted by the Irish Independent, but said it would make an announcement in the coming weeks.

The Department of Arts contributed €1m and the Cultural Consortium €750,000 to the original fit-out of the building, which opened in 2008. A condition of its planning permission was that it remained an arthouse cinema.

Irish Independent