A NEW cinema in Thurso is on schedule to screen its first film by the start of August with the contract expected to be signed within the next few weeks.
Entrepreneur Rob Arthur said that he is 100 per cent behind reopening The All Star Factory on Ormlie Road and is confident the venture could be turned into a success.
The 43-year-old said that he has been overwhelmed with the response his proposal received when over 200 people packed the Pentland Hotel in Thurso on Friday, June 15, to hear of his plans.
He had hoped to have completed the deal by the end of last week but this had not been possible due to unresolved legal issues.
But he told the Caithness Courier that after seeing the public response to his plans, he is confident his takeover of the cinema complex would go through.
"Talks are still progressing but it is my intention to have it opened by the beginning of next month," he said.
"It is a business opportunity that I really want to happen and if there is way that we can open it even earlier, I will look to do that.
"There are still legal matters which have to be discussed regarding the lease of the premises and financial issues, including getting film distributors on board.
"I’ve had some really positive discussions with Disney, Warner Brothers and others companies that I’ve spoken to about getting the latest films to Thurso."
The cinema which will be re-branded as The Thurso Cinema Limited plans to show the Disney film, Brave, on Friday, August 3 - its UK release date.
If the proposal is to go ahead, the development will create the equivalent of up to eight full-time jobs and will also screen live cultural events and sports events.
The cinema would reopen with the use of 35mm projectors but he hopes to convert to digital projectors in time for the end of the year to enable the building to show 3D movies.
Depending on the success of the cinema in its first few months, there are also plans to create three extra screens by converting the existing bowling alley.
Mr Arthur believes there is still demand for a cinema in the area and said that his venture could serve as a blueprint for other rural areas across Scotland.
"I have a design layout that shows where the three screens will go but the outcome will depend on discussions with the landlord and external funding," he said.
"I was so pleased to see so many people turn up to hear plans for what was a failed business two year ago.
"Other cinemas around the country that are on people’s doorsteps fail because they don’t show up but the meeting gave me confidence that this could work.
"The response has also picked up good vibes from other areas across the country and if Thurso is successful, it could be the first of a circuit of cinemas based in small towns."
The All Star Factory opened in October 2000 in a £1.5 million development that included two 152 and 88 seater cinemas, a six lane bowling alley and bar, restaurant a games hall and offices, but closed in 2009.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise is pleased with how talks are progressing and is hoping a deal could be reached soon.
A spokeswoman said: "Talks are ongoing but there have been very positive discussions and we hope that a decision can be made in the very near future."