Liverpool’s Astor Theatre eyes opportunity with Bridgewater Cineplex closure

Cineplex Cinemas Bridgewater will close on April 29. (Rick Conrad)

While moviegoers on the South Shore may be mourning the impending closure of Cineplex Cinemas in Bridgewater, Liverpool’s Astor Theatre is getting ready to welcome film fans back.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell confirmed online rumours late last week that Cineplex will close its seven-screen multiplex on April 29.

No one from Cineplex was available for an interview on Tuesday, but the company sent the following statement to QCCR:

“We’ve made the difficult decision not to renew our lease and to close our Cineplex Bridgewater location, the last day of shows will be April 29.

“We are grateful to our team and the community for their support over the past 11 years.”

Mitchell said he’s contacted Cineplex to see if they would remain in town at a different location or in a smaller venue. He said Tuesday he hasn’t heard back from the company.

“Other than the date, I have no additional information from Cineplex,” he said in an interview. 

“It’s a huge loss just because it’s an entertainment venue, it’s a place where all ages could go out and socialize. It’s a loss in terms of that social aspect in the community.”

But Bridgewater’s loss could be Liverpool’s gain.

The Astor Theatre has regularly shown movies in its 200-seat space. It just recently got a new sound system installed. Executive director Jerri Southcott says they plan to begin showing movies again by mid-April. She said it may keep more Queens County moviegoers at their hometown theatre.

“Personally, I think it’s sad. The timing is really interesting. While it’s not going to make a huge difference, because we’re not sure people will make the trip here, but it might help.

“We will certainly be looking at the opportunities that it will have for us as a functioning theatre.””

News of the Cineplex Bridgewater closure comes amid a few tough years for the movie theatre industry. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, theatres have struggled to bring people back. Competition from streaming services has also bitten into the bottom line.

According to a 2023 study by Telefilm Canada on Canadian movie consumption, 95 per cent of Canadians watch feature films. But 98 per cent of that movie watching was happening at home.

Big budget action movies are still a draw to the multiplex, the study found. But many older and rural consumers watch a majority of movies at home. Fewer than a third of people made two or more trips to cinemas in the previous 12 months.

“High spectacle genres are the preferred lures to cinemas, especially for younger moviegoers,” the report found. “By contrast, many older and more rural consumers watch an overwhelming portion of their movies in the home.”

Ironically, Cineplex has been reporting better audience numbers in the past year, though box office receipts are still lagging behind 2019.

Smaller theatres like the Astor, which are considered second-run movie houses, had been restricted in what kinds of movies they could show. They had to wait until new releases cycled through Cineplex. 

With the Bridgewater theatres closing, Southcott isn’t sure how that will affect what the Astor can offer.

“We tended to be a place where they could see movies that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to see at a big cineplex anway. We’re excited about getting it up and running again. I’ts a great venue. Seeing a movie here is a really great experience.”

Mitchell said he thinks there’s still a great moviegoing market in Bridgewater. 

“I don’t think this is the end of movies in Bridgewater. You can watch a movie in Liverpool and you can watch a movie in Chester at the two playhouses, which is great. But regionally, this is the only multiplex. There is a market here for the multiplex.”

In the meantime, an online petition has been created to convince Cineplex to reverse its decision. It has more than 800 signatures so far.


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A new way of living is coming to the South Shore

A large crowd gathered in construction site listens to a person speak

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell addresses crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village Ecovillage. Photo Ed Halverson

After three years of planning Atlantic Canada’s first co-housing project is becoming a reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village ecohousing took place Saturday in Bridgewater.

The 30 unit co-housing project is the dream of co-founders Cate and Leon deVreede.

Cate says they didn’t take the conventional route to buying a house.

“We initially started when we were still renting an apartment. We skipped the single-home ownership and went to let’s build a whole neighbourhood,” said deVreede. “That’s the ambitious part maybe, or the dreamer part in us.”

Cohousing is unique in that the future residents work together to decide on the design and pay for the project. It balances privacy with community involvement.

Homes in Treehouse Village will be arranged to allow residents to easily socialize.

Each family will live in their own townhouse-style home but will have access to a large communal kitchen, playroom, library, co-working space, fitness area and dining room for shared meals.

Cate deVreede says going through the process of figuring out how decisions will be made to planning the design has helped the community form before the first foundation is poured and she’s excited to see it taking shape.

“This is really the first physical example that we have of the social community that’s come together already to design and get this thing built,” said deVreede.

A man stands behind a woman speaking into a microphone

Cate and Leon deVreede address the assembled crowd. Photo Ed Halverson

Treehouse Village isn’t just socially progressive. When it is complete, the development will be Atlantic Canada’s largest multi-unit Passive House construction.

That means all structures will be built and tested to meet extremely high-energy efficient standards to lower energy costs and save on long term maintenance.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. He is pleased not only with how the development is attracting people to the town from all over but also how the ecohousing project aligns with the energy saving goals of the town’s Energize Bridgewater initiative.

“As we try to be more green, reduce our carbon footprint and try to find innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption, that this is the largest passive community in Nova Scotia, it’s a great template that we can build upon,” said Mitchell.

Of the 30 units only six are still available.

After three years of planning, the development is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2022.

Leon deVreede says when Treehouse Village is complete, moving truck companies better be ready.

“We’re looking at having everything done and having everyone move in together so we can be a community, all at once,” said deVreede. “[It’s a] single-phase build, the money’s in place. It’s going to happen.”

Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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