Element Pictures the new tenant at The Lighthouse Cinema

Good news for art house cinema goers it’s expected that the Lighthouse cinema at Smithfield will reopened in time for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and may be included as one of the venues for this year’s festival, which will be released on the 2nd of February.

The four screens Lighthouse Cinema with 600 seats closed in April of 2011 being unable to meet it rent commitments with the loss of 20 jobs. The original lease arrangement had been set at €100,000 in 2008 with develop John Flynn of Fusano Properties; in 2010 the lease was increased to €200,000 unable to meet that commitments Fusano Properties Ltd (at this point their properties were controlled by NAMA) sought the winding up of the Light House Cinema Exhibition and Distribution Company Ltd in the High Court in April 2011.

When Smithfield area was first put forward for developed, Dublin City Council made the inclusion of a cultural space a condition of the planning permission. Back in 2006 the then Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism,  John O’Donoghue, approved in principle an offer of capital grant assistance of €1 million towards the development of the Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin. The project began construction in March 2007 and was officially opened in May 2008.  Further State funding of €750,000 for the fit out of the cinema was provided from the Cultural Cinema Consortium comprising the Irish Film Board and Arts bringing the total state investment of the State in the project to €1.75 million.

The Lighthouse had been the flagship cultural project of the north of the city, and an important player of the rejuvenation of the Smithfield area. Its closure and that of the nearby hotel, and bar plus disturbances at the Smithfield horse fair generated a lot of fear for the future of the area.

In July of 2011 the Cultural Consortium, the developer John Flynn of Fusano Properties/ Nama sought a new operator for the cinema complex two bidders were identified Curzon Artificial Eye and Element Pictures, with Element eventually being chosen as the preferred bidder to be the new tenant of The Lighthouse Cinema.

Element are a very successful production house, run by Andrew Lowe and Ed Guiney, who have produced films such as The Wind That Shakes The Barley and The Guard. They expanded into film distribution four years ago. Alongside Irish film and drama it produces, it also distributes about 20-25 feature films in Ireland each year produced by European film company Studio Canal.

While no official announcement has been made it is expected that The Lighthouse will reopening under the new management of Element Pictures in time for the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

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