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Local History


The Lounge and Arc complex
The Lounge and Arc complex in Headingley

Headingley's Lounge cinema closes

The Lounge cinema, one of the best known venues in Headingley, has been closed down by its owners, Associated Tower Cinemas (ATC), claiming declining attendances and mounting losses after a tough five years.


The closure has resulted in the redundancy of three full-time employees and some part-time employees.

Chris Ure, Managing Director of ATC, told BBC Radio Leeds:

"It is sad news, a very sad blow to the company and all employees. A lot of people out there will be disappointed.

The Lounge
The Lounge

"It's been losing a lot of money for quite a long time, it (the closure) has been on the horizon for quite some time."

ATC claims that the cinema's audiences reduced by about a third when the Ster Century multiplex opened in the Light in Leeds city centre. The group also claim that the additional effect of the large cinema complex in Kirkstall meant the Lounge has lost around half its audience in total.

"It is a shame," said Ure, "It was a super cinema everybody held it in high regard. Unfortunately nobody actually seemed to go to it which was the fundamental problem."

Five years ago the Lounge recieved a major refurbishment but Chris Ure admitted that the company had started to run out of ideas for currently marketing the cinema.

At this stage ATC has no alternative plans for the Lounge site and they are seeking a meeting with planners and local councillors to discuss how it can be redeveloped.

The Cottage Road cinema
The Cottage Road cinema

Although ATC's other smaller cinema in Headingley, Cottage Road, is not currently affected by this decision the company will be looking for increased attendances otherwise the "prognosis is not good"  for the second venue according to Ure.

last updated: 12/01/05
Have Your Say
What are your memories of the Lounge and other smaller cinemas in Leeds? How do you prefer to watch films?
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The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Dishana
The Lounge was such a treat. It was a real treat to see a film. What a treat. But now its closed i am sad. I really like India and Bollywood, I would like it if the councill opened a bollywood cinema and then i could take my daughter beadette to it. Mrs Shah says that if there was a bollywood cinema she would take me and all the people in my hindu class to watch films there. That really would be a treat. such a treat.

niamh o donovan
the lounge used to be my home to me the people how served you were very pleasent and kind i wilnever forget the vue

Alethea
The lounge was one of the best cinemas it was cozy warm the toilet facilities were great.it used to be a close place to walk up to especially if you want to be on time for a film. Me and my friends used to enjoy meeting up to watch a film on a saturday night.It used to be peaceful and and it gave joy to the people who came to the cinema. Now look what they have done they wanted to turn it into a night club but, its just lying there giving no use to anyone! I pass the cinema eveyday as i go to school and i cant help but think " WHAT A WASTE! "

unknown
The lounge was a cinema which was not just a buisness but a family to everyone and the memories will never leave

Len
No "save the Lounge" campaign ? "We had to close it". I smell a Rat. A Corporate Greed rat. What about the council stepping in and using some of our vastly inflated council tax (value for money - don't make me laugh), to save historic landmarks like this.

lee
as i was looking though at all your letters well good for you all if you all feel this strongley about this cinema dont let them close it without a fight i live in the eastend of london we have no cinemas because of a greedy bingo company what as happend to the art deco cinemas these so called mutiplexs are shoe boxes over priced i think the manager of this cinema must think again and does he want a buyer for the cottage road site as i have loids of idears about getting people back into cinemas people of leeds dont end up like here london a slum

carolyn
in my own home

shamim begum
i seem to remember the headingley pictur house in leeds 6 in the year 1982

Laura
I adored the Lounge, it was a mainstay of my time in Leeds. No one can stand in the way of property development, more's the pity.

old employee
they love the fact that they 'HAD' to close it. they just want to knock it through, to the Arc, so they can turn it into a night club!!

larmsy
i loved the lounge. i remember watching films there.

Simon
I seem to remember that the Lounge/Arc owners had a period they to operate the cinema for when they redeveloped the site originally, it was a obligation in the right to develop and operate a bar there. It is quite obvious that this period has run out and they closed it purely because that was the plan. I distinctly made that view clear at the time that this would be there plan, no consultation, no 'loss of revenue' just a planned decision in the expansion of the Arc, if it was integral to the business it wouldn’t be an of shoot company that they can axe with zero effect financially to the core parent company. There was no consultation as the council had virtually sanctioned its closure by allowing the period of operation to be specified in the original consent to operate the Arc, once this point had passed the company had no need to consult anyone as they knew if they just sat it out and did the bare minimum, until they knew the Arc 2 could be developed they were sitting pretty. Headingley doesn’t need businesses like this that puts nothing back into the community.

morro
Chris Ure says it's a shame the cinema has closed. It is a shame for the residents of Headingley but not for him. He has closed it to make way for more developments, more money for him and more misery for us. When will this depressing Empire be curtailed?

Karmone
In response to Robert's point, I think he is correct, if a little condescending, in stating that cinemas are hard to run. Nevertheless, blaming the seasonal patterns of student absence is wrong-headed. Indeed it wouldn't take 'a professor of economics' to notice that the bar businesses in Headingley have not suffered from the long student holiday effect that Robert cites as being so crippling. Yes, it is feast and famine, but the feast in this particular case is great. I think the Lounge suffered more damage from ATC's opening of three new bars in the centre of Headingley, which drew away student trade and money. The Lounge's losses (c.50k a year) were loose change compared to the massive profits made by those 3 bars, which could easily have provided subsidy for the cinema. It would be a small price considering that this money would be buying the goodwill of the community at large, which has suffered the antisocial consequences of ATC's late-licence bars. I don't think it is an insult to the Lounge team to say that it was let down by its owners. I don't think anyone's blaming the staff, are they?

Robert
It is truly amazing how many "EXPERTS" there are in the area of cinema operation. Outside London, Leeds has been unique, for quite a few years, in having 3 single screen suburban cinemas. All across the country, independent single screen sites have steadily gone out of business. Why? Well more recently in the sameway that the Hyper/Supermarket has closed all those butchers, grocers and other small shops, the Multiplex has knocked the final nail into the independent cinemas coffin. On top of this, over the last six years, the Film distributors share of the box office has nearly doubled, and in Headingley's case, the population shift has been equally dramatic with approximately 50% of the population (students)now leaving during the May to September period. It doesn't take a professor of economics to work out that The Lounge Headingley was a very hard business to make a profit from! Off the cuff comments about the way the Lounge cinema was operated,in the face of these factors, are an insult to the years of hard work and effort by the Lounge team.

steve
i remember going to the lounge in the 60,s before i went to australia

Julien
I can think of several recent films, such as "Old Boy" and "The Story of the Weeping Camel" which got rave reviews but could not be seen anywhere in Leeds. The Lounge cinema would have been a perfect venue for them. A little bit more creativity in the scheduling (e.g interweaving the blockbusters with more arthouse films) and the cinema would not be in trouble. That being said every time I went (about once a month) it was always very busy. The overnight announcment of closure seems very suspicious.

Simon
Whenever something like this happens it is always sad.Probably more for the poeple like you and me rather than the company that has decided to close this historic biulding. The way Headingley has been turned into a commercial centre is quite disgusting. What makes this 'Great' Britain is our history and culture. Quite frankly our next generations to come are going to have nothing to be proud of anymore

Paul Miller
Hello, The Lounge management should have considered the fact that no cinemas offer the unlimited monthly (year's subscription) a scheme run successfully by UGC, who don't yet have a branch in Leeds? Consequently the first cinema to do this in Leeds will undoubtedly gain a huge marketing and loyalty advantage over their rivals. Concerning the advantage that Ster's location affords you, it is also true that if Vue cinema in Kirkstall were to start offering the unlimited pass, Ster would lose a lot of business very quickly, and would probably have to introduce a similar scheme, but would have already lost people for at least a year who had already signed up for their slightly out of town rivals . . . . Worth thinking about, as Vue cinemas must realise . . . and Showcase . . . . Too late for the Lounge Regards Paul Miller

Matt
If enough pressure is put on ATC to sell, will the council buy the Lounge? I'm pretty sure any fool could manage it more successfully than them, and even if it's not a money-spinner, it should break even with a bit of imagination. I love the lounge, and always went when it showed something I wanted to see, but mostly it was the same old hollywood stuff. My friend Marie will miss it, too. She can't access the Cottage Road in her wheelchair.

Robert
I feel the closure is a disgrace. The way the cinema was closed without public consultation is a clear indication of the way the owners value the community. I'd like to know what impact the opening of the owners'three large nearby bars had on the takings of the cinema. I am sure they would have dragged customers away even more than the newish multiplexes (that they blame)which are a good bus ride away for locals and students. The owners have no conception that they are guardians of an important community heritage building. At best they were inept at marketing the cinema. At worst their minds were on the value of the land that the cinema sits on and tailored the strategic (mis)management of the cinema accordingly. Shame on you ATC. You are turning Headingley into a tacky entertainment park. You cannot be trusted with our heritage.

Jackie
Ive lived in Headingly since I was a student. Ive raised my children here and they go to local schools. The closure of the Lounge feels like another nail in the coffin of what was was once a thriving local community. Headingley is becoming another non-descript commercial sprawl, devoid of character. There is so little to attract families to this area now. I despise the mentality that insists that everything in a city must 'pay its way'. Does Mr Ure not earn enough from all his other enterpises in the area that he couldn't support such a fantastic community resource?

Richard
As has been said, if it wasn't so suspicious i would not be surprised anyway. I thought this was a great cinema, but not anywhere near creative enough in it's scheduling or marketing to keep afloat. Whereas the Hyde Park has carved out a niche where it doesn't actually compete with any other cinemas in town and therefore guarantees itself business, the lounge insisted on long runs of mainstream films. This site should either be re-opened and run properly, or turned into another arts venue, perhaps something akin to the city varieties in town, but with a more diverse repertoire of acts such as comedy, music, theatre etc. cheap enough to remove a few rows of seats and put a stage in. it's practically a theatre already.

Jacky
This shouldn't be presented as a trip down memory lane - but a very current example of the degeneration allowed to happen in this area of Leeds. Doesn't seem to matter if the community collapses or historic landmarks and amenities vanish - as long as businesses make as much profit as possible. Watch that space to see what replaces the Lounge. Will they have to give back the £5000 grant awarded to the Lounge by the UK film council last Feb?

Andy
Although the Lounge and Cottage are great cinemas, they don't show the right films. I love going to the Lounge, but not to see Finding Neverland or The Terminal. If they stuck more interesting movies on they would have survived.

Anne
For everyone concerned by this issue, please come along to the following meeting and show your support for The Lounge: Tuesday 1st February starting at 7.00pm in the Headingley Community Centre (opposite the Lounge Cinema). Local Councillors and representatives from Leeds City Council's Planning and Licensing sections will be in attendance to answer questions.

Dominic
My understanding of the closure was related to the likelihood of the building becoming grade II listed. Students should boycott the bars owned by the company. Closure of the Cottage would be vandalism.Hopefully the future of the Hyde Park can be assured, it’s the only good movie house in Leeds.

Valerie Waterhouse
I have recently heard that the Lounge Cinema is to close, allegedly due to lack of custom. I have to say that every time I have gone to this venue to see a film the place has been full or very near full. I would say that someone has an ulterior motive for the Lounge i.e. to make it into yet another nightclub/bar, as if Leeds suburb needed any more clubs in a city/suburb already saturated with pubs, clubs and wine bars.

paul
I agree with the others who suggest it has been run into the ground. The films didn't change often enough and were too mainstream to compete with kirkstall/ster century. If people knew it was in trouble they would have made an effort to go more often. The local community will draw their own conclusions on whether this has been done on purpose if it is turned into a crappy nightclub by summer. Hopefully residents will not permit a license to be granted for another poncey overpriced watering hole for those hollyoaks-esque student darlings.

Elaine
I have visited the Lounge on numerous occasions and it was always either full or nearly full. Are we sure they just don't want to redevelop it into another Night Club/Wine Bar etc in a City suburb already saturated with pubs, bars etc?

Jessie
I was so sad to see the Lounge closed. The multiplexes have none of the character of the lounge, cottage rd or hyde park and they are hugely overpriced. I really hope that the site is preserved, the only other positive use for the site that I can see is a concert venue. (In the style of the Brixton Academy or Manchester Apollo). There aren't many in Leeds any more and it would make a change from turning it into an Arc/Trio clone. I too cannot believe that there was no campaign to save it. Please go to the Cottage Rd as much as possible to save it from the same fate! Boycott the multiplexes!

Beth Shannon
Keep Cottage Rd Cinema open - it's the best and the only cinema I know where the staff wear jazzy waistcoats!

TONY & ANNE ASHBY
We shall miss it a lot. We always preferred it & Cottage Rd to the multiplexors. We'd have gone more often if the films had changed more frequently.If a film is kept on for 3 weeks, customers won't go 3 times! We hope the same mistake isn't made with Cottage Rd.

Bob Askew
Memories I have are of taking my then girlfriend Linda to the Sunday Horrors! That was nearly fourty years ago and now Linda is wife for 33 years and we live in NZ with our family. I guess its whats called progress.........last year they pulled down my old school (leeds Modern!)

Jackie
I am sad to see it closed, but it was here one minute and gone the next. Every time my family and I have been the cimema, it has always fairly busy. There does appear to have something very strange happening

Oliver
Damn, i loved that place, certainly nicer than cottage road. any word on the attatched ARC bar/cafe? the lounge will be sorely missed

Leo
I think this is really sad but I can't say I'm surprised. I interviewed the manager for a university project about a year and a half ago and they were completely clueless, they had no idea what was going on at other cinemas in Leeds or how to market themselves. I think the people at Hyde Park Picture House should take this as a wake-up call or they'll end up going the same way.

Fran
I'm extremely sad to hear that the Lounge has closed. I was in there only last week and remarking on what a lovely cinema it is, and how I'd been going there for many many years, having lived in the area all my life. I have to agree with some of the other comments on this board though, as I too am more than a little suspicious about the reasons behind the closure. There has been no forewarning that it was about to happen - as I say I was in there last week and there were no signs or indications anywhere. Everyone knows that the Lounge is very well loved, so why was there no campaign to rally support?? I'm sure if there had been then it would have had some effect. No, I'm firmly convinced that there are other powers at work here, and The Lounge has been made 'an offer it can't refuse'. I really do hope that it doesn't get turned into another bar. As much as I (regularly) enjoy the headingley bars and pubs, there really is no need for another one, particularly on the scale of The Lounge's site - and please don't make it into student accommodation either, other parts of Leeds need that more than Headingley!! Let's try and think of something more useful and creative for the area, that will benefit both students and residents alike.

Peter
I was saddened to hear of the closure of The Lounge and surprised at the speed with which it has happened. My family were regular customers of The Lounge and my daughter was planning to go to see "Alexander" there this evening. This company also owns the Cottage Road cinema and it is surprising that they have chosen to close The Lounge which has recently been refurbished and is conveniently situated in the centre of Headingley.

KENNYBOY
WELL THAT IS A SHAME ... NO DOUBT THY LL TURN IT INTO 'ANOTHER' TRENDY BAR. LIKE HEADINGLEY HASN T GOT ENOUGH

Nelly neil
This decision comes as a terrible shock. All 'ATC' would have needed to do is advatise on bill boards around the city like 'Use it or loose it' people would definately have returned to the cinema to save it. Personally i want this building to remain a cinema, it is a major part of Leeds & therefore my history. So i shall oppose any planning application for any change of use etc.

Patricia Eastwood
I'm always suspicious, when I hear of landmarks like these closing. And, not sure that they close due to low attendance. Where we live, in Toronto, we used to have a wonderful cinema in Bloor West Village. It was convenient for everyone, right on our doorstep, in the middle of a section of town where small stores were still privately owned by family and friends. During the 1990's things started to change. When the "mega" corporations saw just how busy the neighbourhood was, it wasn't long before they started to move in. Our lovely old "Runnymede" cinema is now a mega Chapters bookstore. The family owned supermarket is now a another bank (we have 6 within a 1/4 mile radius). The deli got pushed out because the landlord got greedy and raised the rent to the "ridiculous" level. This has been a landmark for over 40 years, as has the cinema for even longer. It's the big, greedy corporations that are changing the landscape....and it's sad. I'm sorry to see the Lounge go. I've never been there, I have been to the Cottage Road, but I remember my Mum and friends talking about both these cinemas and frequenting them every month or so back in the 60's/70's. It's sad...

Anne
The closure of The Lounge is very sad and surprising news indeed. I regularly see films at The Lounge and was not aware that it was at risk of closure. I prefer to see films at smaller original cinemas preferring the impressive modernist architecture, friendly atmosphere and character (and lack of freezing air conditioning)- I always attempt to see films at the Lounge, Cottage Road or Hyde Park rather than the multiplexes. If the cinema cannot be saved I hope that the building facade and interior will be preserved intact if any 'redevelopment' occurs.

Mick
...and what's the betting on it being redeveloped as a bar.

Nam
I was a student in headingly for years. The cinema never seem to promote any films so remained low key. Probably why it didn't do well. All the other cinemas always have big adverts enticing customers.

ravyn
Can't believe it! Was my favourite cinema. Let's hope the cottage road site remains open.

Lizzie-Lou
I can't believe that the Lounge has closed. It's one of the nicest cinemas in Leeds - at least it has some character not like those faceless multiplexes.

George
What a shame, it used to be a real landmark. Mind you the last film I saw there was Pulp Fiction and now I don't live near Headingley.

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