Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Curtain poised to come down on the Curzon

City landmark sold for undisclosed sum

THE final credits are set to roll for a much-loved piece of Belfast cinema history.

THE final credits are set to roll for a much-loved piece of Belfast cinema history.

The Curzon on the Ormeau Road has been sold for an undisclosed sum to Rochester Property Development Ltd.

It is understood the site will be redeveloped for shops and houses.

The cinema's owners, brothers John and Leslie Gaston whose father John Senior founded the Curzon more than 60 years ago have pledged to keep the projectors lit until next year.

'We haven't set a closing date, but we're thinking in terms of 1999 The Curzon belongs to the 20th century rather than the 21st,' said Leslie.

'We didn't put The Curzon on the market as such. But parties had approached us with offers and eventually we reached the stage particularly from the point of view of increasing competition that we accepted an offer,' he added.

'We now have to compete with 38 screens in Belfast and Lisburn and for an independently-owned cinema it just became progressively more difficult.'For the Gaston brothers, their ownership of the cinema has been much more than a business for both shared a passion for the movies.

'I think it's been our interest in the film industry on a wider scale which has helped us survive through thick and thin,' said Leslie.

And although it's competition from the national cinema chains which is bringing the curtain down at The Curzon, it has survived many knocks in the last 60 years.

'The big thing was television, especially the launch of ITN in 1959. Its launch on Hallowe'en October 31, 1959 was an infamous date for us. We just weren't prepared for the effect it would have on our business,' he said.

The next major blow for trade was the Troubles the cinema was targeted a number of times and was forced to close for three months after being damaged in 1977.

'At one stage we were one of only two picture houses left open in the city. We felt we had to play our part in keeping cinemas going in Belfast,' said Leslie.

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