It's curtains for Bristol Imax as film screenings stop
BRISTOL'S ill-fated Imax cinema is to stop showing films ... again.
The decision was taken by owners Bristol Aquarium who are yet to decide what to do with the space.
The 68ft by 48ft Imax cinema was part of a £97-million development on the city's Harbourside which opened in May 2000 alongside Wildwalk.
But both attractions closed in April 2007 after At-Bristol managers said they were no longer financially viable.
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The venue was then given a new lease of life in 2009 when Bristol Aquarium took over the site. The company has since welcomed hundreds of thousands of people through its doors including more than 11,000 school children.
Bristol Aquarium park director David Waines said: "Our aim is to continually develop and improve the visitor experience and to create a world-class aquarium in the heart of Bristol.
"In response to feedback we have received from visitors we will be building on the success of our talks and feeding programmes to offer the public an even more interactive and personalised visit in 2012."
As part of future plans the aquarium has also been reviewing the use of Imax in its cinema.
Mr Waines said: "We are currently compiling our strategy for the next three years and have been looking at the Imax operation and assessing its contribution to our business.
"As the Imax brand is increasingly moving away from documentaries and into mainstream Hollywood movies we no longer believe it fits into our ambitious plans and we have therefore taken the decision to stop screening Imax films.
"Once again we would like to thank everybody for their support in 2011 and to underline our 100 per cent commitment to the city of Bristol in the years ahead."
Built over two floors with a series of separate themed habitats and more than 50 displays, Bristol Aquarium also features two underwater walkthrough tunnels, open-top tanks and a Learning Lab to explore.
The centrepiece of the aquarium is the giant Coral Seas display where visitors can enjoy the closest of undersea encounters with tropical sharks and rays in an underwater walk-through tunnel, via a two-metre concave bubble display and a massive floor-to-ceiling acrylic viewing window.
Other displays recreate mangrove swamps and are home to spitting archer fish, mudskippers and freshwater rays.
There are giant Amazon rainforest pools full of piranhas and catfish plus a recreated South American fishing village.
The Imax and Wildwalk opened as part of the At-Bristol complex in 2000.
Costing £97.3 million to set up, it was seen as one of the Government’s landmark projects to celebrate the new millennium, and promised to bring millions of visitors to Bristol and millions of pounds into the city’s economy.
The Millennium Commission provided £41 million of the £97 million cost of the At Bristol complex from lottery cash, with the rest from Bristol City Council, English Partnerships and private backers.
The Imax cinema was the first for the West.
Its screen (15 metres tall and 21 metres wide) showed 3D movies.
But in February 2007, bosses announced the Imax and Wildwalk was losing money and would close with the loss of 45 jobs.
Shortly after the Imax closed, the University of the West of England (UWE) said it was interested in occupying the premises, although the plans fell through.
In March 2008, it was revealed the building was to become an aquarium.