Once derelict Art Deco cinema opens after refurb

JOHN Swinney, the Scottish Finance Secretary, today bought the first ticket for the first public screening of a movie at the newly reopened Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy.

And it was revealed that “Oblivion” - the sci-fi blockbuster starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman - will be the first movie to be screened to the general public at the new cinema in the heart of Highland Perthshire.

The original Art Deco cinema, completed just before the outbreak of the Second World War, closed in the early 1980s and was later turned into an amusement arcade. The building finally closed its doors in 2004 but a campaign group, the Friends of the Birks Cinema, was formed a year later to raise the £1.8 million needed to resurrect the defunct cinema.

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The new Birks Cinema is a state-of-the-art, 100-seat digital 3D cinema and also features a 64-seat café bar area.

Mr Swinney, who is the SNP MSP for Perthshire North, said: “This day has been long-awaited and really drives home what community team work can achieve. I’m honoured to be first in line to buy tickets for my local cinema and very proud to see the Birks Cinema restored, resplendent and fully operational once again.

“Moreover, I am excited about the role the cinema will now play in the local community as an employer, as a creative inspiration, and as an asset to Aberfeldy and the Highland Perthshire area for both residents and visitors alike.”

Charlotte Flower, chair of The Birks Cinema, said: “John Swinney has been a prominent supporter of our project and we are delighted he has been our first customer. We’ve truly appreciated his backing and we look forward to seeing him return to the Birks Cinema as a regular customer as we know he’s a big fan of the movies.”

She added: “This is an extremely important week for the Birks Cinema. To get everyone geared up and ready for opening to the public, from tomorrow we will be opening our doors to a series of test viewings.”

The Birks Cinema will officially open to the public for the first time on Saturday, 20 April.