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A tale of two cinemas

by Lindsay Shelton
A second cinema has been affected by city council actions (or lack of them).

The council has decided that the Penthouse will not be allowed to serve wine to filmgoers on Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

This is the same council which owns the Embassy, and which keeps forgetting to maintain the lighting on the facade.

The council’s readiness to ban wine sales at the Penthouse reads strangely when you discover that it’s allowing Westpac Stadium to serve alcohol at the super rugby match on Good Friday. This is in spite of the Stadium’s inability to control drunkenness during the Sevens.

Unlike the Stadium, the Penthouse has a flawless record. Its licence has never been challenged. I’ve never heard of any Penthouse patron who was drunk or staggering or vomiting in the quiet streets of Brooklyn.

But the council knows better. The decision made by the council (staff? or councillors?) is that film screenings are not an “event,” and therefore cannot be allowed to have a special Easter licence, unlike a sporting match.

The police don’t agree. They see things more clearly than the council.

The DomPost reports that police didn’t oppose the Penthouse application for a special licence “as they believed it was no different from a game of rugby at Westpac Stadium.”

Sergeant Terry Fraser: “A pub doesn’t have an event. People just turn up to drink like they do every second day … But with the movie, that makes it an event – you go buy a ticket and watch a movie.”

Compare this with the explanation from council spokesperson Richard MacLean who refuses to accept that there’s anything special about going to a movie: “…Showing a movie … is not a special event.”

Apparently the council received applications for seven special licences for Easter. The Penthouse application was the only one that was singled out for rejection.

Having caused negative impacts on two of Wellington’s most popular cinemas, the council should be hastening to reassess its attitudes, and its systems. And it should probably re-think the definition of an “event,” too.

Complicated liquor laws causing Easter closures