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Omniplex Cinemas (Official)
Operated by: Omniplex Cinemas
Functions: Movies (First Run)
In Belfast city centre, the Picture House opened in June 1911. In 1947 it was re-named the Regent, and in 1965 the Avenue Cinema. It was closed in October 1982. After a spell as a bingo hall, the building was demolished in 1987, and CastleCourt Shopping Centre was built on the site. (See separate Cinema Treasures entry for the full history.)
In May 2021 Debenhams Department Store, which had been a ‘flagship’ store in the CastleCourt Shopping Centre for decades, closed. In June the centre operators announced that they were in discussions which would see the bulk of the huge space transformed from retail to leisure use.
In March 2022 the council approved plans for a £10.5m redevelopment, which would see 30,000sqft of space being taken up by a new cinema, 50,000sqft being used for a family entertainment scheme and the remaining 40,000sqft for further retail activity.
Omniplex Cinema Group was to be the operator of the new cinema with its entrance upstairs on the 1st floor of the building. This was to be a boutique, luxury cinema, as opposed to the circuit’s more usual multiplexes and it was due to open at Christmas 2022. In keeping with this new direction, and with a lovely nod to the site’s cinematic heritage, the new cinema was named The Avenue.
Following an invited-guests preview on Tuesday 7th March 2023, The Avenue opened to the public on Friday 10th March 2023. The opening films were boxing sequel “Creed III”, sci-fi action adventure “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, comedy thriller “Cocaine Bear”, romantic comedy “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, horror thriller “Scream VI” and children’s favourite “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”.
There will eventually be nine screens, each with 60 seats. (Only screens 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9 were operational at the opening.) These are the height of cinema luxury, with very comfortable sofa-like seats as standard. Each auditorium is equipped with the latest in Laser Barco projection and Dolby Digital surround sound.
The Avenue also features a fully licenced bar and lounge. In another lovely touch, there is a display of material relating to the earlier Picture House/Regent/Avenue.
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