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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2009, 14:13 
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AdamD wrote:
I consider this part of Melbourne's "movie district"


From wikipedia:

Bourke Street has played a historically significant part in Melbourne's cinema industry. It was home to the city's first permanent cinema (although this was initially established near Princes Bridge), and by 1913 had developed into Melbourne's principal cinema precinct. In 1908, Arthur Russell began screening films at St. George's Hall, which was rebuilt as Hoyt's De Luxe Theatre in 1914, marking the beginning of the Hoyts cinema chain.

Bourke Street remained a centre for cinema-goers until quite recently. In 2005, the Hoyts cinema moved to larger premises at the Melbourne Central shopping centre. On 15 February 2006 the Village cinema closed down, leaving Village cinemas at nearby Crown Casino as the main Village branded city cinemas. The Chinatown Cinema, which inhabits the former Hoyts Midcity cinema, is the only cinema left in Bourke Street. Just off Bourke Street, the Greater Union cinemas and the newly expanded Kino Dendy cinemas continue to be cinema drawcards.


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PostPosted: 13 Jul 2009, 18:20 
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The Cinema Centre replaced the old Payne's Bon Marche department store that had been on the site since crica 1900.

I loved the Peter Muller design and his Sydney School style. The building is unique with definite Googie influences (as also seen in his works at Hoyts Bulleen, Tamworth and Wantirna drive-ins). The interiors were done by Neville Marsh of Sydney. Prue Acton did the original front of house staff uniforms!

These multi-cinema designs were known as complexes at the time (the term multiplex in relation to cinemas emerged in the US in the late 1970's and generally referred to suburban, rather than CBD locations). The Cinema Centre was the second in the world to open after an AMC design in the USA, although the Cinema Centre was announced first. Hoyts were owned by Twentieth Century Fox at the time and the head office had moved to Sydney; Melbourne offices were reatined as the Southern Division HQ and located into the Cinema Centre building on two separate occasions over the years.

Interestingly hardly any economies of scale were realised for the three cinemas. It opened with separate managers and projection staff for each theatre along with individual foyers and separate booking clerks. This changed over the years of course.

All three of the original theatres: 1,2,3 were 70mm Todd-AO equipped (Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors) and had provsion for single lens Cinerama and Dimension 150 70mm formats although by 1969 most 70mm prints were in the Super Panavision 70. When cinema 4 was added it also was 70mm equipped (Philips DP 75 projector). These were amongst the very first automated cinemas although assistant projectionist were still employed until non-rewind platter systems were added in 1976.

The facade originally had a tri-revolving sign that featured the three films showing in the complex. Around 1973 this was changed to the wagner zip change 3D letter marquee used until close.

Opening films were Joanna, The Thomas Crown Affair and For Love Of Ivy. McLures restaurant resided in the mezzanine until well into the 1980's. Changes over the years took away from the marvellous foyer areas (as changes to Ron Monsborough's foyer of the Russell cinemas took away from its original glorious sweep of honeycomb).

The cinemas have essentially been gutted, which is a great shame as these were amongst the very last of the 1960's style theatres to survive in this country. The space and dimensions, whilst dated by today's high impact, large screen theatres, were a pleasant place to see a film, despite the non-stepped floors in the cinemas. My favourite memory of the place, along with thousands of others, is the initial engagement of Star Wars that ran for over a year in the building.

It was the Hoyts flagship until the Hoyts Entertainment Centre opening in George St Sydney in 1976. Hoyts let the location fall into decline in the last years of its life, a sad reflection that the company has on its proud past.


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PostPosted: 13 Jul 2009, 19:54 
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Thanks for that history Snub. It was very interesting. If I remember correctly, McClures restaurant was one where you could telephone your order through from your table, as each had its own telephone. I can remember it being there into the 1980s. I think that there may have been another McClures in St Kilda Road. Thanks again for your post, I enjoyed reading it.

Peter Barrett


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PostPosted: 13 Jul 2009, 20:51 
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Thanks Peter. Yes St Kilda Rd was the original, they also had an ad in the Hoyts newspaper directory daily. When McLures shut down at the Cinema Centre, I think a Cassidys replaced it for a while, but it closed too and the extra space was used for pinball and video games.


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PostPosted: 14 Jul 2009, 12:15 
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I remember McClures ! It was fab as a kid. There was telephone on the table, and that's how you make your order ! You could get a table looking down into the main foyer. I know there are pics taken in the 1970s held at teh state lib of the interior, but I am wonderingis anyone else took pics before it was gutted (though the main foyer space appears to still be there) - I think its becoming a fitness centre....


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PostPosted: 14 Jul 2009, 23:32 
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I have some shots of the building at opening and during construction and a shot of the model the Peter Muller used. I do not have any foyer shots from memory.

The phones were part of the gimmick, not sure if they lasted to the end or not.


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