A NEW operator has been announced to takeover the empty Basildon town centre cinema, the council confirm.

Basildon Council has agreed terms with the cinema chain, Vue, to take over the empty Empire Cinema in East Square.

Back in July 2023, Empire Cinema collapsed into administration and announced the closure of a number of cinemas.

Empire Cinema were due to open a new £25 million cinema complex at East Square in Basildon after being given the keys to the site in 2021 for an expected opening in 2022.

However, at the end of August, Basildon Council recovered the site from Empire after it was no longer able to open under the firm.

The site has remained vacant since.

Today, Basildon Council has confirmed it has received an application to change the advertising sign on the cinema at East Square to Vue cinemas.

Craig Rimmer, councillor responsible for economic stimulus and tourism, said: “I know residents and cinemagoers have been waiting patiently for news on the scheme and it is fantastic to get this project moving again.

“I can't wait to see the new sign go up while we continue our negotiations.”

In Summer 2023, Basildon Council began the marketing process to secure a new operator for the cinema at East Square, with all of the leading cinema operators in the UK being invited to submit an offer.  A number of parties registered their interest. Following engagement with various operators, the council received a final offer from Vue Entertainment Ltd.

The heads of terms have been agreed and formal discussions have commenced to negotiate a lease with Vue.

As part of this ongoing work, an application has been received from Vue to update the signage on the building. Once complete, the cinema's largest screen will hold more than 300 cinemagoers, with nine other screens showing the latest films, plus VIP and Recliner seating.

The East Square development is also home to Kaspa's Desserts, Nando's, and Orleto Lounge, offering a variety of choice for visitors. A Vue spokesperson added: “We can confirm that we are in formal discussions with Basildon Council regarding a new lease at East Square to bring The Ultimate Big Screen Experience to the area.

“We look forward to being able to share more information in due course.”