A 12-screen cinema will open tomorrow (May 10) under a new name after it was saved from long-term closure by a national operator. 

Omniplex Cinemas has announced that it will officially open on Friday in Sunderland - just in time for sci-fi epic Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, and with blockbuster Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and family fun film IF on the horizon, cinemagoers will be able to enjoy the latest releases at the cinema on Lambton Street.  

Alongside the blockbusters being shown, 40 jobs have been created with the return of the cinema and Omniplex Cinemas has set aside an investment fund for modernisation and improvements over the next 12 months.  

The Northern Echo: Omniplex has taken over the old Empire cinema in SunderlandOmniplex has taken over the old Empire cinema in Sunderland (Image: OMNIPLEX)

Renovations will see the installation of luxury Recline seating and sofa beds in screens and delicious new food and beverage options in the lobby. 

To celebrate the launch, Omniplex Cinemas are offering ticket holders free popcorn on the launch day, Friday, May 10.

With significant refurbishment on the horizon, cinemagoers will see an immediate change with ticket order and collect kiosks having been installed in the main lobby.

Omniplex Sunderland customers will also be able to validate their car parking ticket in-cinema for up to three hours of free parking.  

The Northern Echo: Popcorn at OmniplexPopcorn at Omniplex (Image: OMNIPLEX)

Paul John Anderson, director of the Omniplex Cinema Group, said: “We are thrilled to be able to bring the multiplex cinema back to the city centre and cannot wait to welcome customers through our doors.

"We understand the cinema is central to the community in Sunderland, which is why we are investing in significant improvements, with exciting renovation plans set to bring customers a truly unparalleled viewing experience.” 

Omniplex Cinemas signed a lease for the former Empire location after Sunderland City Council bought the site in 2023. 

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It fits into a broader plan for a transformed Sunniside, with active marketing underway to attract a cluster of high-quality leisure operators in the spaces immediately adjacent to the cinema.  

Executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, Peter McIntrye, added: “We’re thrilled that the new Omniplex Cinema is preparing to open its doors in Sunniside, something we were determined to secure for the people of Sunderland. 

“We know residents value access to a high-quality cinema, and - with more investment planned to transform the facility - this will be a brilliant addition to the city’s leisure offer.” 

The opening of Omniplex Sunderland comes after Omniplex Cinema Group’s expansion into Great Britain last year, with the cinema company making an investment of £22.5 million over 18 months to acquire and refurbish existing Empire Cinema locations across Great Britain.