Academy Gold Cinema

Keeping art house films alive in the Garden City

Acdemy-Gold-logoWhen the Academy Gold Cinema opened its doors last year, it was the culmination of years of hard work and determination by a dedicated family who had endured more than their share of adversity.

Annette Cook and her husband Rodney, had always been in the movies; more than three decades ago Rodney managed the Academy Cinema in the Arts Centre, a 220 seat theatre that quickly became the centre for art-house films in Christchurch. In 1996, Annette and Rodney bought that cinema, along with the nearby Cloisters cinema and also installed a smaller 11 seat Academy Classic cinema on the upper level of the Academy building.

In 2008, The Cooks opened the Metro Gold cinemas in Worcester Towers, a triple-screen purpose-built art cinema complex. The cinemas are very much a family business; daughter Rebecca works part-time in the office and sons, Darren and Glenn are managing directors, running the distribution, advertising and scheduling.

“Our cinemas were seen by film distributors as the safest location to place their films. They were the best art house cinemas in New Zealand at the time,” says Annette.

In February 2011, Worcester Towers that housed the Metro Gold cinema was flattened, having been badly damaged by an earthquake aftershock some months before. “It was a very sad day. Everything was gone – the building collapsed and by 4am the demolition crew had flattened anything that was left.”

The Academy and Cloisters cinemas suffered significant damage in the February quake and although still standing, were closed down. To make matters worse, Annette and Rodney’s home was badly damaged and the second quake in June 2011 “finally killed it”. Despite the earthquakes and destruction, the Cooks knew they wanted to open another cinema and create a fresh start for themselves and their family.

“We looked around for new sites but none clicked. We then came across a site in The Colombo shopping complex in downtown Sydenham and the whole family went ‘wow’. It gelled. Everyone loved it and it was the perfect place for a three-screen art house cinema,” says Annette.

The Metro Gold opened in mid-2013. Unfortunately Rodney didn’t get to see the new cinema in its new home, as he had sadly passed away earlier in the year. “He would have been really happy and very proud of the cinema and his family. It’s his legacy – he was a passionate movie buff. It’s been incredibly full-on year since Rodney’s passing; we’ve opened up a cinema, sold the apartment and bought a cottage and my two sons have got married. I’m happy now to just sit back and relax!”

Annette has nothing but rave reviews for Moore Stephens Markhams director Belinda Canton. Although Belinda has only been working with the Cooks for a couple of years, Annette “wouldn’t be without her”.

“Our books were in a bit of a mess to be honest, due to our previous accountant not keeping things up to date. Tax returns were outstanding, financials were not current. But Belinda has got us up and running and everything’s been sorted. We’re so grateful to her. She’s been absolutely brilliant.”

Now the cinema’s books are in order, Belinda continues to do the tax, annual accounts and also attends meetings to discuss the business’s finances and direction. “I talk to her about things,” says Annette. “Like when I made the children directors of the company, she helped us through that process. It’s a great relationship and one I’m not giving up!”

Published Spring 2014.

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