After twenty years at the helm of the Les Toiles du Rex cinema, Lucas Martinez has sold his shares. The new owners, who are three, will work to increase attendance and diversify the cinematographic offer.
Lucas Martinez ended his history with Les Toiles du Rex last week. At the age of 59, he decided to leave the two dark rooms of the only cinema in the sub-prefecture of Ariège. Now it is a trio that is in charge of the operation. Charles Mascagni, who runs Le Régent in Saint-Gaudens, is associated with the acquisition operation with Ludovic Graillat (based in Cahors) and Nicolas Subra (employee of the local cinema).
This acquisition 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 get this theater back on track and find an audience that didn’t come,” he confides.
New owners want to increase 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,” says Lucas Martínez, who seems to want to turn the page on the 20 years he has been in the projection booths as soon as possible. As bitter as it is disillusioned, it evokes the procrastination of present or past municipal teams. “He did not do it with Mr. Trigano and he could not do it with Mrs. Thiennot,” estimates the former owner who preferred to throw in the towel “a year ago” when the first negotiations with Charles Mascagni began. A boss who still intends to “develop cinema with the community.” The first priority is to relaunch the attractiveness of the two rooms “by offering screenings for young audiences and auteur cinema. But a balance of the establishment must be made, Charles Mascagni points out cautiously before recalling “that ‘a film development project is done over time’.
The council will probably need time, as it absolutely wants to establish a public-private partnership. Even so, Carlos Mascagni, who was entitled to a visit to the former bishopric, does not seem convinced of the feasibility of a cinema in this place. Jean Luc Lupieri, deputy mayor in charge of culture, is confident. “If the project we want to start, he explains, is feasible, we will launch a call for operator projects”. Depending on the chosen Appamean, two or three of them are likely to respond, and “Mr. Mascagni is naturally one of them,” he adds. “But nothing is done, he points out cautiously. In any case, we will have to see the cost of the operation”.
In case the rehabilitation of the diocese resembles a financial abyss, Jean-Luc Lupieri affirms that “there is a plan B”. In what order? The elected official is keeping quiet about the possible alternative solution.
Lucas Martínez 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 Toiles du Rex manager who believes in one place: Milliane Esplanade.
In the town, some do not believe in the technical possibility of building 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 center of the city. Elsewhere not hello!
The former bishopric, owned by the diocese, is still for sale
Since it no longer houses the diocesan administration facilities, the former bishopric has been put up for sale at a price of one million euros. Located at the foot of Mount Castella and around the square of the same name, the building is made up of a palace, terraced gardens and two wings built at the beginning of the 20th century. If several investors visited the facilities, none followed up. Beyond the sale price, it is certainly the extent of the work that seems to “chill” potential buyers. At the same time, the city that plans to make use of its preemptive right is not willing to put a million on the table. According to the estimates made, the old bishopric would only weigh 300,000 euros. Far from the conquests expected by the diocese.