After twenty years at the helm of Les Toiles du Rex, Lucas Martinez sold his stake. The new owners, and there are three of them, will work to increase attendance and diversify the offer of cinemas.
Lucas Martinez put an end to his Les Toiles du Rex story last week. At the age of 59, he decided to leave the two dark halls of the only cinema in the sub-prefecture of Ariège. Now this trio leads the operation. Charles Mascagni, manager of Le Régent in Saint-Gaudens, is linked to a takeover operation by Ludovic Grail (founder in Cahors) and Nicolas Subra (local cinema employee).
This takeover comes just as the city is awaiting the results of a feasibility study for a movie theater in the former bishopric. But for now, Charles Mascagni has other concerns. Other goals. “We have to get this theater back on track and find the audience that didn’t show up,” he admits.
New owners want to increase traffic
With an annual attendance of 50,000 spectators (pre-Covid), Les Toiles du Rex needs a second wind. “We’ve reached 59,000 viewers,” notes Lucas Martinez, who seems eager to turn the page on 20 years spent in movie booths as soon as possible. Bitterly, disappointed as he is, he causes procrastination from current or past municipal teams. “It didn’t work out with Mr. Trigano and it didn’t work out with Ms. Tienno,” says the former owner, who chose to give up “a year ago” when the first negotiations with Charles Mascagni began. A boss who still intends to “develop cinema along with the community.” The first priority is to renew the appeal of the two halls, “offering screenings for young audiences and art-house films. But we have to take stock of the establishment,” Charles Mascagni elaborates, before reminding “that a film development project is made over time.” .
Time is likely to be needed by the mayor’s office, which is keen to create a public-private partnership. However, Charles Mascagni, who had the right to visit the former bishopric, does not seem convinced of the advisability of opening a cinema here. Jean-Luc Lupieri, deputy mayor for culture, remains confident. “If the project that we want to initiate,” he explains, “we will implement, we will announce a competition for projects from operators.” According to a select Appamean, two or three of them are likely to answer it, and “Mr. Mascagni is naturally one of them,” he adds. “But nothing is being done,” he notes cautiously. “In any case, we will have to see the cost of the operation.”
Just in case the restoration of the bishopric is akin to a financial abyss, Jean-Luc Lupieri argues that “there is a plan B.” What is the order? The elected official remains cautious about a possible alternative solution.
Lucas Martinez believes that the rest of the plans can be counted on the fingers of one hand. “I have been fighting for years. A cinema in Pamiers is possible only outside the city,” says the former manager of Toiles du Rex, who believes in only one place: the Esplanade Millan.
In the city, some do not believe in the technical feasibility of building a building in this place, the proximity of the groundwater level will require extraordinary investments.
Only certainty, state aid will only be granted on the condition that the new cinema is secured in the city center. Elsewhere there is no hello!
Former diocese-owned bishopric still up for sale
Since it no longer contains the premises of the diocesan administration, the former diocese is put up for sale at a price of one million euros. Located at the foot of the Castella hill and around the square of the same name, the building consists of a mansion, terraced gardens and two wings built at the beginning of the 20th century. If several investors visited the premises, none of them reacted. In addition to the selling price, the scope of work certainly “cools” potential buyers. At the same time, the city, which plans to exercise its right of first refusal, is not ready to put a million on the table. It is estimated that the former diocese will weigh only 300,000 euros. Far from the profits the diocese hoped for.