Work is under way to transform an abandoned north-east bingo hall into the region’s newest cinema.
A £2 million project to clear out and remodel the building on Marischal Street, in Peterhead, into a modern five-screen facility has begun.
Irish company Melcorpo Commercial Properties Ltd has taken on the ambitious project with Arc Cinema.
Watch our video for a tour around the premises
Now, a Melcorpo director has confirmed the movie theatre could beam its first films onto freshly-created big screens as soon as March.
Workers were in the building this week when Hollywood director Jon S Baird popped in to have a look at the progress.
Born and raised in Peterhead, Mr Baird – who directed the Bafta award-winning Stan and Ollie and is famous for his adaptation of Filth – said he was excited to see a cinema complex once again take its place in the town.
And he revealed his own personal connection to the venue.
Mr Baird said: “I told my family I was coming here and would visit the new cinema.
“My mum and dad’s first date was in the Regal cinema, which was in this building in the 1950s.
“They went to see a film called Tea for Two, I believe.
“Because of that, this is a very special place for our family.
“Once it’s open it will be a big draw for the town – which will hopefully have a knock-on effect.”
Currently the theatre space is being gutted to allow for a second storey to be internally added, as well as a lift to make the venue accessible for all.
Hearing of Mr Baird’s visit, Brian Gilligan from the Arc Cinema said: “I’m delighted to have someone with such great film credentials as our first visitor to the new cinema.
“We hope he wasn’t too disappointed by the fact that there is still a lot of work to do.
“We are looking at an opening date in March now and if Jon wants to come back then we’d be delighted to see him.”
Earlier this year the company was given a £10,000 grant for a feasibility study to gauge demand for a cinema.
The results showed that it would be viable in the long-term and was greatly supported by the wider town.
In October, Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee agreed to dig deep to help make the £2 million project a reality.
Melcorpo was given a £200,000 boost from the authority’s property investment fund – which is used to bring empty buildings into use across the region.
The Gala Bingo Hall closed in January 2018 and was vacant until work began.