Art-house movies to be seen at old bank

Sheffield banking
Sheffield banking

Work is due to start next month on converting an old bank in Sheffield city centre into a four-screen cinema.

Builders are set to move into George Street, between High Street and Norfolk Street, near The Crucible, after Curzon Cinemas were given the all-clear by the council to make changes to the interior of the listed building.

The group, which specialises in art house films, is aiming to open four small auditoria by September or October this year. One of the features will be a roof terrace where films can be screened in the open air in summer.

The £2.5m scheme for the former Sheffield Banking Company premises is designed to incorporate the historic features.

Council approval means two new cinemas are coming to the city centre. The other, a nine-screen multiplex on The Moor is part of The Light chain, scheduled for opening around Easter 2016.

The Sheffield Curzon will have three auditoria at ground level - with 66, 55 and 40 seats - and a VIP auditorium, available for rent, on the first floor with 22 seats. It will be the 10th or 11th in the chain, depending on progress in Canterbury. London Victoria opens next month. Other, smaller, locations had shown a demand, said Rob Kenny, director of cinema development.

“We are really pleased with how we are trading in Ripon. We think it transfers outside London. There is enough potential in Sheffield to do something a bit out of the ordinary.”

In particular, Curzon believes it can co-exist with The Showroom in Paternoster Row - “most definitely”, said Mr Kenny.

The company also distributes films and having its own ‘boutique’ cinema will give it control over where and how long they are shown for. Some of its films are shown at The Showroom.

The conversion - retaining the ornate banking hall ceiling, grand wooden entrance doors and the steel vaults in the basement - will include a bar and food area.

The roof terrace will allow films to be shown in the open air up to midnight, using a pull-down screen and with the audience having wireless headphones.

“It’s a crazy concept, but it’s immensely enjoyable,” said Mr Kenny. “It’s like a special event.”