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‘T-Squared’ Takeover: Everything You Need to Know About Possible Changes to St. Andrews’ New Picture House Cinema

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

On 9 October 2023, business partners and long-time friends Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake announced their plans to renovate the New Picture House Cinema, St. Andrews’ historic and only existing movie theatre, into a luxury sports bar. The two are also shareholders of the real estate company Nexus Luxury Collection which is backing the renovation alongside 8AM Golf. ‘T-Squared Social’ (named conveniently after the alliterative duo ‘Tiger’ and ‘Timberlake’) currently has one New York City location but has its “eyes already looking to new locations around the world”, according to the company’s website. Thus, only a month into the New York City location’s opening, its gaze has already landed on the 90 year-old cinema just a six-minute’s walk away from the Old Course. This comes as no surprise as both Tiger Woods (who won two British Opens at St. Andrews) and Justin Timberlake (who played in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship) have very close ties to the home of golf. While the company promises to keep one of the three screens of the New Picture House open for continued theatrical screenings, the new venue is planned to include swing simulators, dartsee bays, bowling, sports screens, as well as bar food and cocktails. The planned renovations are yet to be set in stone as the Fife Council must approve the renovations beforehand. Nonetheless, controversy and conversation has no less exploded across town.

It only took a few days after their announcement for posters reading “Save Your Cinema” to be posted all over town, petitions to be shared and signed online, and for a general sentiment of uncertainty to consume the diverse community of St. Andrews. Virtually every local, student, and golfer has a take on the situation. Indeed, there are the die-hard golfers excited for the change and, conversely, those who are deeply upset about the proposed changes to the cinema. Yet, the film fanatics are not necessarily at war with your regular, day-to-day golf enthusiasts and opinions are not so strikingly black-and-white. 

When speaking with some local and university golfers, conflicted feelings arose about the changes proposed for the cinema. Some contend that Woods and Timberlake’s decision has been disrespectful towards the town’s history and local community. “It’s disrespectful to the town; Justin and Tiger already have enough money and there’s already locations elsewhere” one student golfer stated. While petitions have garnered thousands of signatures already, a local film student stated this is simply not enough to save the cinema. They stated, “I was already worried about the state of the theater before. It is obvious they don’t have much money: they are only screening a couple movies that are usually just blockbusters and you have to wait through thirty minutes of commercials before every screening. So, I think it was only inevitable to change their strategies or sell it altogether. The petition is a great step, but we have to consider the theater needs more money. I think further steps would be for the cinema to communicate about why they are selling it, for students to raise money if a shortage is the case, and to change the structure of the cinema by providing a wider variety of movies (like cheaper independent movies that students may be interested in) or hosting local film festivals such as the Sands Film Fest.” 

NPH managing director David Morris acknowledged the theatre’s significance to the town while also highlighting his hopes for the future with T-Squared on multiple news outlets. He stated, “Since opening for the first time in 1930, the New Picture House has been an integral part of the town’s entertainment base… The planned T-Squared Social investment will enable the local community, students, and visitors, the opportunity to experience a broader range of cinema, dining, and entertainment at the popular venue.”

Overall, feelings are mixed as the cinema is deeply embedded in the town’s collective memory. Everyone, whether they are excited or disappointed about the change, has close ties to the theatre and its beloved presence in the town. To the petition “Prevent the Conversion of New Picture House Cinema into a Luxury Sports Bar” the cinema “isn’t just any cinema; it’s the heart and soul of St Andrews. As the only cinema in our town, it holds a special place in the hearts of all who call this beautiful place home. It is not just a cinema; it is a sanctuary of memories, a place where our diverse community comes together to share in the joy of film and culture.” No matter what opinion one has with the wary situation, questions surrounding the student, community, and tourist experience as well as debates regarding gentrification of the town will certainly continue as answer from the Fife Council is yet to be determined.

Brooke Ryback

St. Andrews '25

Brooke is currently in her third year at the University of St. Andrews, studying English and International Relations. She is from San Diego, CA and is passionate about keeping up with current events - especially those pertaining to women and women's rights. She is interested in all forms of art, but especially literature, film, and music. During her spare time, she loves to read a good book with a cup of coffee in hand, write in her journal, or play a round of golf.