After much speculation, there's now a timetable for when the Rialto and Wellington Markets will have to move: according to an article in Wednesday's Dominion Post, "the market building would be demolished before Christmas, while the three cinemas would be vacated by the end of the year."
In my earlier discussions on the subject, I speculated about where the market might move to, but not about the Rialto. While I think most cinemagoers would agree that the current layout and facilities leave a lot to be desired, it would be a huge blow to Wellington if it disappeared entirely. Rialto's owners are actively looking for a replacement location, and while they expect to make an announcement soon, it's hard to imagine where it might go. While the existing theatres aren't huge, I can't think of any existing vacant buildings into which three cinemas could be inserted at short notice, so perhaps it would have to be part of a new development.
There are plenty of development sites just down the road in Wakefield St. The rear of Courtenay Central has supposedly been earmarked for a five-screen Angelika Film Centre complex for some time now, but there's little sign of progress. Across the road, the old service station next to what was until recently the Warehouse is crying out for a productive use, and a combination of cinema, retail and residential could work quite nicely there.
Perhaps it's time to think further afield, and with the surge in residential developments in SoCo, perhaps some of the underutilised sites further up Tory or Taranaki streets could work well. When you think about it, the Cuba Quarter seems a natural place for arthouse cinema, so perhaps some of the vacant sites around Ghuznee St could be worth a look: for example, the corner of Leeds and Ghuznee St, or the land parcels between Bute St and Garrett St that were recently sold. In a sense, moviegoing is an introspective activity that doesn't lend itself to active edges and the other tenets of good urbanism, but cinemas and theatres generate a lot of coming and going, and usually have associated shops and café/bars that bring a lot of activity to the street. Thus, any replacement site should be able to add to its surroundings, and a brand new complex certainly wouldn't go amiss.