NEW details of York's upcoming £4m cinema have been confirmed for the first time.

Reel Cinema in Blossom Street closed its doors for the final time last month, ahead of a huge renovation project by new owners, Everyman, which will see the former Odeon redeveloped into a five-screen, more luxurious venue.

Everyman CEO Crispin Lilly told The Press the turnaround for the Reel deal had been very quick - from initial conversations about six months ago, to redevelopment getting underway two weeks ago - and the changes would include new heating and air conditioning, as well as inclusion of a bar and eating area.

He said: "We paid £1.3m to Reel for the building, but will be investing £2.7m in doing it up, and that's a level of money that three years ago people would have thought we were stark raving bonkers to be honest.

"What customers will really notice is what we strive to do with every venue we open - create a venue that's really a destination people love to go to, even just to visit as a bar."

Although the announcement was sudden, Mr Lilly said the company had been looking at York with an eye to opening a venue here for some time.

He said: "As we've grown, we've been saying 'where do we want to be', and started looking at towns and cities across the UK we felt could support an Everyman. We didn't go far down a list like that until we hit York.

"It's an amazing city, a small city which has a nice intimacy and great quality of heritage and culture, and we wanted to be in there. We had several developers come to us with opportunities in York which we've turned down, because they were out of town, which we weren't interested in - the multiplex model is different to what we do - so we kept on looking."

Mr Lilly said the transformation of the building would be similar to other Everyman conversions of former Odeon sites in the south of England, and confirmed York firm Simpson was responsible for the overhaul.

He said: "We work with three or four really good contractors but Simpson have been with us a while - they did the Leeds and Harrogate cinemas for us. It's really lovely to have a local firm working on a local site."

As far as changes, Mr Lilly said the building would be redesigned on the inside, but visitors would notice a difference in the atmosphere and attitude of the cinema as well as the structure.

Mr Lilly said there was "something in the walls of these old cinemas that add something unquantifiable to the ambience", which Everyman aimed to promote.

He said: "That kind of got lost in the seventies and eighties. Multiplex cinemas do a good job, but target 15 to 24-year-olds and it's about getting them in and out quickly and easily.

"That's fine, but if you want to have a nice night out and you love film, you want to go somewhere that's just as passionate, that's a bit more of what our customers want from a night out. We're looking to take people who go to the cinema three or four times a year and help them go four or five times."

Mr Lilly said Reel employees had been offered jobs at the new cinema, but faced with the prolonged closure, had chosen to leave. However, he said he expected many of them will come back once recruitment starts in coming weeks.

He said: "They had a team of 12, we will be looking at 35 to 40 jobs, so there's definitely an uptick in employment in the area.

"We encourage our teams to talk to customers, they are there to make sure from the hour before the film to when they leave the building, they're taken care of. It's not complicated. We're a bit more expensive than a multiplex, maybe by £1 or £2, but in terms of value, I think it's a great deal more. People totally get where those extra couple of pounds are being spent and understand the extra value compared to going to the multiplex."

Mr Lilly said support would be offered from other branches, but he hoped "90 to 95 per cent" of recruits would be from York, but there was one thing he was unable to confirm for sure - the official opening date of the new cinema.

He said: "I still would like it to come in within the year, but these buildings have a habit in the first month or so of throwing a curve ball at us, so until we get all the structural stuff done, we will reserve judgement on an exact opening date. At the very latest, it will be early 2018."