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David Mulholland has put time, heart, and soul into bringing a cinema experience back to Thames. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Movie magic to return to Thames with ‘Left Bank Theatre’

More than two years after the Embassy Cinema played its final film in Thames, a new cosy, homely picture theatre looks primed to take its place.
David Mulholland has put time, heart, soul, and roughly $600,000 into bringing a cinema experience back to Thames, and he’s now awaiting building works to commence on what will be called the ‘Left Bank Theatre’ – named for its position next to Karaka Stream on Pollen St.
“I’d like this to be something for all of the community,” he told The Profile. “I’d like everybody to get something out of it – except gratuitously violent stuff.”
Work on the project at 659 Pollen St started around February of this year, and during that time, David has had to obtain building consent, file a fire engineer’s report, and obtain an assortment of paperwork that included emergency lighting, acoustics, and ventilation.
He amassed a myriad of items from disestablished cinemas from across the country, such as a projector from Picton, three speakers from Tokoroa, a surround sound system from Cambridge, seats from Hastings, and another speaker that was once in the Embassy.
There’s still a lot of work to be done ahead of the cinema’s targeted opening in April, 2024, like getting a liquor licence and food registration, not to mention the electrical and plumbing work and construction.
But once completed, David hopes Left Bank Theatre can be a place for connection.
“I’m hoping this can be a place where people can meet each other, interact a bit, and it feels kind of like a community lounge,” he said. “A friendly, warm space that is the right size for the town.”
For two decades, David, who now lives up the Thames Coast, was a policy advisor in Wellington for government departments.
He was living and commuting from Whanganui, where he was a member and past president of the local film society.
“I left my job in Wellington just over a year ago… and I just loved the film society and miss it dearly, so I thought: I need to bring that here.
“I love hosting people, and I think a cinema that feels really homely and interesting will be fun,” he said.
Construction work will be undertaken by local builder Rudolf Turk, and the cinema will feature a foyer area, an accessible bathroom, an outdoor courtyard, and roughly 30 seats.
Its digital cinema projector means the Left Bank Theatre will be able to show the “latest movies” as well as a mix of other films, with David planning on having up to 18 screenings per week – 21 during school holidays.
He’s also keen to form a film club for seeing “more quirky and foreign films”.
“When I actually see a wall up and when the space gets divided, that will be very exciting,” he said. “So if people can just bear with me while we go through the process of setting it all up, I’ll then be really keen to talk to people about what they’d like to see screened or what they’d like to happen here.”