Hoyts secures lease of Cronulla cinema that extends 'well into the 2030s'

Hoyts has made a long-term commitment to the iconic Cronulla cinema, securing a lease that extends "well into the 2030s".

Hoyts will spend $6 million refurbishing the complex, including pulling out all the old seats and replacing them with recliners.

Movie-goers will be able to choose their seats online, in contrast to the present non-allocation system, which turns many people off.

There will also be new carpet, screens and projectors and a revamped front of house, with self-serve confectionery and a bar / cafe with hot food options.

Chief executive Damian Keogh revealed more details after announcing on Friday Hoyts would take over from Event Cinemas, which will close the cinema, which it rebranded GU Filmhouse, in February 2020.

The future of the privately-owned cinema, which opened as Cronulla Theatre in 1928 and underwent major redevelopment in the early 1990s, looked bleak.

While the historic facade is protected by heritage listing, many feared an apartment block might rise behind it.

There was an outpouring of relief and joy on the Leader Facebook page following Friday's online report the cinema would continue under Hoyts, the largest single-brand movie exhibitor in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Keogh said Hoyts Cronulla would open in July 2020 and include "unparalleled extra-comfy recliner seating, as well as their signature food and beverage offerings with a front-of-house revamp including Treat City and Artie's Bar & Cafe".

In a follow-up interview with the Leader, Mr Keogh said Hoyts had secured a long lease.

"With the amount of capital you have to put into something like this, let's just say we're moving well into the 2030s, believing the cinema is still going to be relevant to the local population," he said.

"We have been looking at moving into the shire for quite a while, but there are not many sites and it is a big investment.

"I think we can breathe new life into the Cronulla cinema and I am really excited about it."

Mr Keogh said the Cronulla cinema declined after the Miranda rooftop complex opened in 2015.

"Miranda is one of the biggest cinemas in the country and its relatively new, so I think a lot of people started moving to it," he said.

'It takes a lot of money to renovate a cinema and it probably didn't make much sense for Event to do that, but we believe there is an opportunity for us and hopefully shire residents will agree."

Mr Keogh said there was not enough space to introduce Event Gold Class equivalent facilities, but the two smaller theatres could become luxury lounges.

"Every seat in the cinema will be a powered recliner for the cost of a normal general admission ticket," he said.

"We have renovated a lot of our cinemas in Australia with these powered reclining chairs, and it's grown a lot of our market share.

"We felt if we came here and did a really nice refurb, particularly the locals but more broadly people in the shire, would flock back to it."

Mr Keogh said, as well as new release movies, "our programming department will look at the local makeup and try and make sure we program a range of content".

"If people want to do it, we could play Cronulla Sharks away games in one of the cinemas," he said.

"We could play retro content, surfing movies and a variety of arthouse movies as well.

"I think it's important that we don't just show the blockbusters but we have the right content for the right audience.

"Obviously in Cronulla, we want to really push daytime visitation of the cinemas.

"The seniors market will become quite important to us as well."