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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 17:02 GMT
Last picture show at the Monico
Monico cinema
The Monico will be replaced by luxury flats

The lights have dimmed and the curtains have rolled back for the final time as Cardiff's last independent cinema shut after a 65-year run on Thursday.

The Monico in Rhiwbina has been forced to close due to dwindling audiences and rising costs caused by increased competition from the new multiplexes.

Brian Bull
Brian Bull has owned the Monico for 26 years

The building, a familiar sight on the corner of Pantbach Road and Ty-wern Road, will be replaced by a block of luxury flats.

Owner Brian Bull, who also runs the Theatre Royal in Barry, said regular visitors are disappointed by the closure.

"Our customers - and the problem is we haven't got many left - have said they are sad to see us go," he said.

"A lot of the people who are saying it is a shame to close haven't been here for a long time, or only come occasionally.

"We had busy crowds back in the mid 90s before all these multiplexes opened, he said.

Mr Bull has been running the Monico for 26 years, and has also been the projectionist for the last two years.

He said the Monico was a victim of there being too many cinemas in Cardiff chasing too few regular cinemagoers.

"We can't compete with 12 screens - we can't compete with all the huge foyer and facilities they provide - we don't have the resources to provide that," he said.

For years, the Monico has served the Valleys as well as Rhiwbina

Dave Berry, cinema expert

"The one (multiplex) in Nantgarw crucified us - once that opened, you could see business going down," he said.

Mr Bull also said the cinema was not bringing in enough money to fund essential repairs.

"This building is 65 years old - it now needs money spent on it," he said.

"It requires - on the fabric alone - about 250,000 spent on it within the next two years," he added.

The flats which will replace the Monico were given planning permission last November, and work on the site is expected to start in the next few months.

Communal cinema

Mr Bull added that the closure did mean he could finally take a break from decades of showings.

"I will be taking my first holiday in 20 years," he said.

Monico cinema
The Monico has been a cultural landmark for decades

"I took a week off in 1980, but I have never had the funds to employ someone to do what I do - something always goes wrong," he added.

Local cinema expert Dave Berry said the loss of the Monico was sad news.

"I bemoan the death of the communal cinema - the cinema which serves a little community," he said.

"For years, the Monico has served the Valleys as well as Rhiwbina,"

"It is sad to see a cinema as good as that go," he added.

The Monico opened in 1937 and its second screen was launched in 1979.


More from south east Wales
See also:

08 Nov 02 | Wales
05 Nov 02 | Wales
22 Nov 01 | Wales
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