Ridings owner NewRiver has struck a deal with independent chain Reel Cinemas to convert three empty units on the top floor of the centre into a five-screen venue.
The cinema, which is due to open in May, said that “competitive” prices were what would set it apart from other chains.
Ridings director Paul Wright said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Reel Cinemas to the Ridings and to the NewRiver portfolio through this ambitious and innovative repurposing of former retail space.
“We have worked closely with Reel to ensure this is an exciting Wakefield community attraction offering affordable prices with some interesting surprises.
“As Reel Cinemas continues its rapid expansion, we will continue to work with them to explore similar opportunities across our portfolio.”
Meanwhile plans are in place to convert the city centre’s Market Hall on Union Street into a cinema.
The last trader moved out of the building in November and the proposals will mean the hall is converted into a leisure complex with cafes and restaurants.
Retail experts – including Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce head of policy and representation Steven Leigh and “customer whisperer” Kate Hardcastle – have said a mixture of shops and leisure facilities are what is needed to keep customers coming into our town centres.
Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are pleased to be welcoming Reel Cinemas to the Ridings shopping centre.
“It will be an exciting and attractive addition to Wakefield’s leisure offer, increasing footfall and providing a real boost to the city centre.”
Chris Morgan-Giles, property director at Reel Cinemas, said: “Reel Cinemas is excited to soon be opening at the Ridings, providing a brand new space for the local community to watch the latest releases and more, at competitive prices.”
Reel Cinemas has 13 venues across the UK – including in Hull, Morecambe and Burnley – and plans to open a further five in the next 10 years.