After twenty years at the helm of Les Toiles du Rex cinema, Lucas Martinez has sold his shares. The new owners, there are three of them, will work to boost attendance and diversify the cinema offer.
Lucas Martinez put an end to his story with Les Toiles du Rex last week. At 59, he decided to leave the two dark rooms of the only cinema in the Ariège sub-prefecture. It is now a trio that is at the head of the operation. Charles Mascagni, who operates Le Régent in Saint-Gaudens, is associated with the takeover operation with Ludovic Graillat (established in Cahors) and Nicolas Subra (employee of the local cinema).
This takeover comes just as the city is awaiting the results of a feasibility study for a cinema in the former bishopric. But for now Charles Mascagni has other concerns. Other goals. “We have to put this cinema back on track and find an audience that did not come,” he confides.
The new owners want to boost attendance
With an annual attendance of 50,000 spectators (before Covid), Les Toiles du Rex needs a second wind. “We went up to 59,000 spectators”, notes Lucas Martinez who seems to want to turn the page of the 20 years spent in the projection booths as soon as possible. As bitter as he is disillusioned, he evokes the procrastination of present or past municipal teams. “It didn’t do it with Mr. Trigano and it couldn’t do it with Mrs. Thiennot”, estimates the former owner who preferred to throw in the towel “a year ago” when the first negotiations began with Charles Mascagni. A boss who still intends to “develop the cinema with the community”. The first priority is to relaunch the attractiveness of the two rooms “by offering screenings for young audiences and arthouse films. But we must take stock of the establishment, specifies cautious Charles Mascagni before recalling “that ‘a film development project is done over time’.
Time will probably be needed by the town hall, which absolutely wants to set up a public-private partnership. Still, Charles Mascagni, who had the right to a visit to the former bishopric, does not seem convinced about the feasibility of a cinema in this place. Jean Luc Lupieri, deputy mayor in charge of culture, remains confident. “If the project we want to initiate, he explains, is feasible, we will launch a call for projects from operators”. According to the elected Appamean, two or three of them would be likely to answer it and “Mr. Mascagni is naturally one of them”, he adds. “But nothing is done, he notes cautiously. In any case, we will have to see the cost of the operation”.
In the event that the rehabilitation of the bishopric is akin to a financial abyss, Jean-Luc Lupieri affirms that “there is a plan B”. What order? The elected official remains discreet about the possible alternative solution.
Lucas Martinez, he believes that the other plans can be counted on the fingers of one hand. “I fought for years. A cinema in Pamiers is only viable outside the city”, estimates the former manager of Toiles du Rex who believes in only one place: the Milliane Esplanade.
In town, some do not believe in the technical possibility of constructing a building in this place, the proximity of the water table would require extraordinary investments.
Only certainty, public aid will only be granted on the condition that the new cinema is anchored in the city center. Elsewhere no hello!
The former bishopric, property of the diocese, is still for sale
Since it no longer houses the premises of the diocesan administration, the former bishopric has been put up for sale at the price of one million euros. Located at the foot of the Castella hill and around the square of the same name, the building is made up of a mansion, terraced gardens and two wings built at the beginning of the 20th century. If several investors visited the premises, none followed up. Beyond the sale price, it is certainly the extent of the work that seems to “cool down” potential buyers. At the same time, the city which plans to make use of its right of first refusal is not ready to put a million on the table. According to estimates made, the former bishopric would only weigh 300,000 euros. Far from the gains hoped for by the diocese.