THERE was a mix of emotions in Sorrento last week as the lights dimmed for the final time as the town’s cinema, also known as the Athenaeum, screened its final film.
New owners, the DeGroup are applying to the state government to demolish part of the heritage building and redevelop it as shops.
Head of the group, Colin Delutis, paid an estimated $11 million for the Peninsula Cinemas Sorrento in 2022, including surrounding structures.
The property is believed to have been offered for sale only twice in the past 75 years, with the last time being 2017 when it was sold for $5 million by Village Road Show founder and majority owner the Kirby family on a lease-back arrangement.
However, with dwindling audiences and high running costs, the cinema was not profitable for many years. It is believed all major cinema companies were approached before the decision to close was made.
Some locals who are not happy with the change have been urging the community to fight the plan, while others have welcomed news that the building will be repaired and restored, and the façade and heritage features retained.