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Raising the curtain on a new cinema experience

MEDIA RELEASE 27 June 2019

Raising the curtain on a new cinema experience at The Arts Centre

The highly anticipated Lumière cinema is officially opening tonight (Thursday 27 June) at The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora in Christchurch.

Set in an award-winning, Gothic Revival heritage building overlooking the North Quad and Peacock Fountain, with luxurious Art Deco interiors and a slick cocktail bar, Lumière’s opening celebration will be attended by special guests Mayor of Christchurch Hon Lianne Dalziel and The Arts Centre Trust Board chair Felicity Price, among other invited guests, and emceed by Jason Gunn.

The new, two-screen cinema, which is in The Arts Centre’s West Lecture building, has its first public screening tomorrow night (Friday 28 June) – Another Day of Life (Jeszcze Dzień Życia) as part of the NZ Polish Film Festival.

This boutique cinema experience is unlike any other and has been created for Christchurch by well-known cinephile Nick Paris, who has worked in the city’s cinema and film industry for 40 years, and Max Hoffman, a former Hollywood screenwriter.

Nick says he cannot wait to share his “baby” with the people of Ōtautahi and beyond.

“Lumière provides a cinema-going experience that is second to none – not just for Christchurch, but within the world of boutique cinemas. It’s an experience that’s simply unmissable.

“Be prepared for indulgence – we are catering to those with even the most discerning taste – the magnificent Art Deco theme; two theatres decked out in plush, velvet high-back chairs; a curtain show remnant of Italian grand theatre; state-of-the-art technology; and a focus on service.

“Then there’s our little secret with the best views overlooking the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens – the adjoined Bijou bar. It features specially designed cocktails, craft beers, a bespoke wine list, Lyttelton Coffee Company coffees, freshly baked pastries, cheeseboards, Rollickin Gelato, She Chocolate and more.”

Nick says Lumière will take filmgoers back to cinema’s “good old days”.

“Although the habits of watching moving images are constantly evolving, the social value and pleasure of watching a film in a special place such as ours remains unique and undiminished.”

Showing a diverse range of quality films, Lumière’s programme draws upon quality selections that cross all borders and languages.

The Arts Centre programmes and partnerships manager Chris Archer says it is wonderful to have cinema return home after an eight-year absence.

“Cinema has been integral to The Arts Centre for 35 years – and counting – and the opening of Lumière marks another milestone in our restoration and rejuvenation.

“Lumière is a resplendent cinema offering unique, quality films and film festivals from across the spectrum and it fits wonderfully with The Arts Centre’s raison d'etre as a centre of the arts and a hub for creativity with rich layers of experiences.

“Nick and Max should be very proud of the cinematic world they’ve created and we at The Arts Centre are thrilled to be helping them share it with the community and visitors alike.”

Another Day of Life will be followed by another festival screening of Nina on Saturday and then Voices of the Land: Ngā Reo o te Whenua will be showing on Sunday and Ngāti on 7 July, both as part of The Arts Centre’s Matariki 2019 celebrations. Regular scheduling will begin Monday 1 July. Tickets can be purchased at lumierecinemas.co.nz or, from Friday 28 June, at the box office accessed from 26 Rolleston Ave (opposite the botanic gardens).

The Arts Centre was home to cinemas from 1976 until the February 2011 earthquake significantly damaged many buildings and resulted in the closure of the entire centre. A $250 million restoration programme began in 2012 with buildings being progressively restored and reopened. Two thirds of the programme is complete with 15 buildings restored and reopened to the public.

For more information, please contact:

Jo Gilbert

Communications and engagement manager

The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora


027 609 7973

(03) 364 9725



Lumière is delighted to gift wrap the unique occasion of what it means to go the cinema. Between the owners, Christchurch cinephile Nick Paris and former Hollywood screenwriter Max Hoffman, they have more than 40 years of experience with the moving image and how it’s delivered.

It is a boutique cinema located in The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora’s West Lecture building on Rolleston Avenue in the cultural heart of Christchurch.

It has two theatres – The Bernhardt with 67 seats and The Bardot with 42 seats – and features state-of-the-art technology with vintage ambiance, luxurious seating and a focus on service. Both cinemas are accessible and wheelchair friendly and are fitted with assistive listening devices suitable for people with hearing aids.

Nick and Max will take cinemagoers on a tour of 80 lounges of the world. Lumière will present engaging, contemplative, and sometimes confrontational films covering all genres from cult, foreign language to gripping documentaries, reissues and film festivals. It will be a mecca for cinephiles.

The cinema also features the delightful Bijou bar with specially designed cocktails, craft beers, a bespoke wine list, Lyttelton Coffee Company coffees, freshly baked pastries, cheeseboards, Rollickin Gelato, She Chocolate and outstanding views of the Christchurch Botanic Garden.

The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora

The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora is a national landmark with a rich heritage and exciting future as a centre for creativity, education, arts, culture and entrepreneurship. It is also home to New Zealand’s largest collection of category one heritage buildings, with 21.

The centre is owned by an independent charitable trust for the people of Canterbury and visitors and it receives no ongoing funding from local or central government. Every dollar it spends must first be fundraised.

Most of The Arts Centre’s 23 buildings were significantly damaged in the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes. While the centre received a reasonable insurance settlement, its $250 million restoration programme is one of the largest of its type in the world and the cost of carrying out both earthquake strengthening and restoration using heritage materials and traditional techniques is very expensive (around $25,000 per square metre). Despite this, through careful management, the overall cost of the restoration has reduced from the original figure of $290 million.

The restoration is about two-thirds of the way through and the first stage is complete. The restored buildings are both significant landmarks and platforms for modern activities and experiences, including education, galleries, museums, boutique retailers, and independent eateries. There are also venues for hire. The centre is home to 28 organisations.

The second stage of the restoration, which began this year, includes the Observatory Tower and the Engineering, Biology and Physics buildings. A 33-room boutique arts hotel and events centre are due open in the Physics and Biology buildings and the tower in early 2022, the same year The Arts Centre’s 10-year restoration is expected to be complete.

However, there is a $35 million gap between the money the centre has and the money it needs to complete the restoration. If it is unable to secure those funds, there is a very real possibility the Engineering buildings along Worcester Boulevard will not be completely restored and will remain closed to the public.

The centre dates to 1877 when it housed Canterbury College (now the University of Canterbury). It also originally housed Christchurch Girls’ High and Christchurch Boys’ High schools.

Since 1978 it has been the Arts Centre, an independent charitable trust for the people of Canterbury and its visitors. It is now under the Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Act 2015, an act of Parliament.

The cinema space

The West Lecture building opened in 1917 and housed Canterbury College’s (now the University of Canterbury) largest lecture theatre. It was originally used mainly by the history department and for public lectures, but later it contained the women’s common room.

Upstairs in the restored and strengthened West Lecture building are four Creative Residences.

In the School of Art, the neighbouring building, there are office spaces, as well as the Maker Workshops (a “messy” space) and the Community Meeting Room, both of which are available to hire at subsidised rates.

The cinema, combined with other Arts Centre offerings, offers a complete entertainment and leisure experience that combines film, food and beverage, and special events that create a complete “night out” experience for audiences.


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