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Curtain drawn on cinemas

PERTH’S Imax cinema industry is on the verge of collapse.

Just two years ago two new Imax cinemas were planned for the city – one in Northbridge at the Perth City Council’s Lake Street car park, which is being redeveloped and the other in the Wool-worths' development planned for the Murray Street Mall.

The Omni Theatre has been operating for several years.

Cinema Plus, owner of the theatre planned for Lake Street has gone into administration, putting that proposal in doubt.

The company had taken a lease of up to 20 years on the Lake Street property and planned to fit it out as an Imax cinema when the building was completed.

If the proposal does fail it will leave car park developer Multiplex in an awkward situation.

Multiplex bought the cinema site from the Perth City Council.

The Omni’s future is looking shaky.

The Omni is owned by the Hong Kong-based Hang Lung Develop-ment Co, which also owns the CityWest shopping complex that houses it.

Hang Lung director John Rogers said the theatre’s future was under review, like everything else at the centre but no decision had been made yet.

“The Omni Theatre has struggled in the past couple of years to look after itself,” Mr Rogers said.

“How much danger it is in is hard to quantify. We have to take into account the synergies of the whole centre itself.”

Scitech is keen to have the Omni Theatre continue because it offers an added attraction for school visits.

However, if the Northbridge Imax theatre starts up, the Omni’s future could be jeopardised.

“Another cinema’s entrance to the market could influence us a bit,” Mr Rogers said.

Imax-style cinemas have traditionally been restricted to science parks and museums as most of the content is documentary-based.

Imago Multimedia Centre’s Greg Riebe said content was a big problem for the Imax industry.

“The films are quite short but the seasons are a lot longer than standard cinemas,” Mr Riebe said.

He said while Imax was a much richer experience than traditional films, Imax films were very expensive to make.

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