ACCRINGTON'S flagship cinema sensationally shut its doors this week less than a year after opening in a blaze of publicity.
London-based GSX, which rents the Premiere Cinema site from Globe Enterprises, went into voluntary liquidation, claiming it could not afford the "sky-high'' rent.
Civic leaders were left reeling by the news, which broke on Tuesday afternoon, but council leader Peter Britcliffe vowed that the show would go on.
Councillor Britcliffe, who had listed the cinema development as his greatest achievement, added: "I am very disappointed that GSX has failed to maintain its commitment to Hyndburn families and young people.
"I am obviously very distressed by the situation that has arisen and it was a shock. I have instructed our officers to work on ensuring the cinema remains in Accrington.
"I am confident that the owners, Globe Enterprises, will re-open the cinema with a new operator very soon."
Around 13 staff have lost their jobs and many film buffs turned up at the cinema on Tuesday evening to find the doors locked and the building deserted.
The cinema opened at a glitzy ceremony in November last year following a 10-year campaign to bring big screen entertainment back to the town.
Dynamic duo Kristan Dewell and Jo-Ann Edmund-son set the ball rolling as 12-year-olds in 1994, when they started up a petition.
But it was June 2001 before work finally got underway following a second campaign led by Accrington teenager Emma Allardice.
More than 1,000 people crowded through the doors when the four-screen, 870-chair cinema eventually opened.
The cinema was part of the £3.5m Viaduct leisure development including a Superbowl and McDonalds drive-through restaurant, both of which are still trading successfully.
Superbowl's operations director Sally Jeffries said: "Obviously we are sorry to hear the news about the closure but we are keen to let people know that we are open for business as usual.
"I am confident this will not affect our business. The Superbowl is proving a real hit with the local community and a regular meeting place for people of all ages.''
A spokesman for McDonalds, which closed its town centre restaurant to move to the site, said that they would also continue to trade as normal.
He added: "We are sorry to see the cinema close. There is the potential for an impact on restaurant sales, but we expect this to be minimal."
Margaret Thayer of the adjacent King Street pub said: "People came in here who were supposed to be going to the cinema but found it shut. People were genuinely upset by the news. But I don't think the closure will have any effect on us."