Gov’t completes purchase of Deluxe Cinema

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The property which formerly housed one of the two movie theatres operating in Antigua, Deluxe Cinema, has been officially purchased by the government. The news was revealed following the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday where it was announced that the Ministry of Culture will take occupancy of the Deluxe Cinema as of January 1, 2019. Government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst stated that, the Ministry of Culture “will retain the largest of the three movie theatres for the continued showing of cultural films and Antiguan productions. The other spaces will be retrofitted to meet other demands.”
The cinema, located on the corner of High and Temple streets and which has served the nation for decades as one of the premier entertainment spots. Deluxe had been known to encounter financial difficulties from time to time, especially since the introduction of the Caribbean Cinemas Megaplex 8 entertainment centre on Friar’s Hill Road, which officially opened its doors in June 2010, and increased the options for moviegoers.
It was in October 2016 that OBSERVER media first learned that the Antigua Commercial Bank was foreclosing on the Deluxe Cinema where the now Minister of Tourism Charles “Max” Fernandez was the second largest shareholder in the business, after his brother Joseph Fernandez up to 2009, according to records at the registry of companies. The government’s planned purchase of the property was first announced in March 2017 and met strong political and public condemnation from those who saw it as a bailout for Fernandez and his family.
Fernandez has on numerous occasions refused to speak on the matter. There is no clear figure on how much it cost the government to purchase the Deluxe Cinema, but Minister of Information Melford Nicholas previously noted that the government would spend EC $8 million although he had earlier reported that the assessed value was EC $11 million.

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