Your early 30s is a perfect age to settle down and buy your first house or, in Andy Miller’s case, your first movie theatre.
The Academy Cinema has operated under Auckland’s Central City Library since 1982 but was last year in need of new owners.
“If no one stepped into the Academy, there was a real concern that art-house inside of Auckland city would basically disappear,” says Mr Miller.
Mr Miller, who is only 32, and his like-minded silent business partner took ownership in mid-October last year. After three months of refurbishment they relaunched in January.
A large part of the refurbishment budget went into a digital projection system that equals the look of 35mm film.
“The last time we show a film is going to be just as good as the first time. It’s beautiful.”
The antique projectors now stand in the foyer under spotlights. Mr Miller wants to preserve the cinema’s original charms.
“That old curtain raising up, I love that, so much fun and nostalgic,” he says.
The Academy Cinema feeds modern needs with an interactive tablet near the entrance, but it still pays homage to the classics.
Cinemagoer Helen Frauces points out the black and white framed photographs of Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin on the wall.
“I love the references to the movies. It looks like it’s run by people who love movies, and know something about movie history,” she says.
The Academy’s unwritten mission is to be the haven for cinema lovers. Mr Miller’s refurbishments were about creating a communal space so “people can come down here by themselves, or with others, and hopefully meet other people who love film”.
The Auckland Film Society is presenting a range of cult classics and hard to find foreign films, starting this week with 70s road movie Two-Lane Blacktop.
The AFS left the Academy at the end of 2011 because there hadn’t been an equipment upgrade, but Mr Miller’s state-of-the-art refurbishments convinced them to return.
Jane MacKenzie, AFS committee member, says: “It’s an ideal location for our audience. Close to the universities for the students and the people who are working in the city.”
What the future holds for Academy Cinema harks back to its past. Famous for long runs of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the cinema will bring back “lots of really cool old film experiences”, Mr Miller says.
There’s no concern now for Auckland’s art-house institution – it’s in safe hands for a while yet.