[PHOTO: Ross Kinnaird]
Just a month ago, Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake opened a “dining and entertainment experience” in midtown Manhattan. The T-Squared Social enterprise opened to positive reviews, a hubbub of press and a good deal of excitement. The same certainly cannot be said about the duo’s plans to replicate their New York City success at St Andrews.
Woods and Timberlake’s project of transforming the Scottish 1930s New Picture House into a “premium sports and entertainment gastro pub” has been met with much resistance by locals in the area fond of the historic independent cinema. Residents want to protect the region’s beloved movie theatre and are irritated by the potential sports bar that would mostly appeal to tourists. A campaign to not allow Woods and Timberlake to “strip away a vital part of our town’s identity and history”, organised by University of St Andrews student and president of the St Andrews Film Society Ash Johann Curry-Machado, already has almost 9,000 signatures within just seven days.
— Meg Dolan (@MegDolanPhoto) October 12, 2023
Hey, @jtimberlake and @TigerWoods! I understand you're thinking about opening a fancy bar in The New Picture House in St Andrews. That's nice, but imagine what your next night out in that beautiful town might look like if you did things a little differently.
Stay with me… pic.twitter.com/MVfiaymsc2
— Suzy Scavenger (@suzyscavenger) October 14, 2023
“The proposed transformation of the New Picture House into a luxury sports bar by T-Squared Social, an American company, is deeply alarming,” reads the petition. “Under these plans, the cinema will be reduced to a single screen, overshadowed by golf simulators and cocktail bars that cater predominantly to wealthy tourists.
“St Andrews is a town with a rich Scottish identity, and the New Picture House has played an indispensable role in preserving that heritage. Converting it into another sports bar is a grave mistake that will contribute to the ongoing gentrification of our beloved town. Our culture, our heritage, and our community spirit are at stake. We must act now before it’s too late!”
— Ian Lindsay (@postcard13) September 28, 2023
The New Picture House is classified and protected as a B-Listed building by the Historic Environment Scotland. It’s described as “a little-altered cinema in an unusual, and possibly unique, marriage of styles created to sit within a traditional St Andrews streetscape without compromising the comfort and technical excellence expected by the discerning cinema-going public of the inter-war period”.
It’s not just the students upset by the proposal as the backlash has spread throughout the town with some going so far as to call it a “vanity project”. The large TVs, golf simulators, duckpin bowling and darts will force two of the three cinema screens to close and forever modify this early 20th century landmark.
“This town has been very good to Tiger Woods and this is not the way to repay residents,” St Andrews Community Council member Neil Dobson told The Courier. “St Andrews is unique and that building is iconic. An American bar is completely out of keeping. It will be full of American golfers with nothing left in the town for children at all.”