Cinema back to picture-perfect glory

By Anne Gibson

Victoria Theatre in Devonport will screen movies again. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Victoria Theatre in Devonport will screen movies again. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The oldest purpose-built cinema in the Southern Hemisphere celebrates its re-opening tomorrow with a gala day in Devonport.

The Victoria Picture Palace and Theatre at 48-56 Victoria Rd will open almost a century after people first entered.

Margot McRae, co-chairwoman of the Victoria Theatre Trust and chairwoman of Devonport Heritage Inc, said hundreds were expected to turn out to for the all-day event, to be followed by almost a week of festivities.

The building's lolly-pastel exterior paint has been replaced with a new heritage colour scheme. The interior has undergone major refurbishment and been fitted out with seats from the Rialto Cinema in Hamilton.

The building on the main street will show films on three screens, operated by the Academy Cinema's John Davies. He's promising a mix of art house and popular cinema.

Ms McRae praised the tremendous community spirit and North Shore City Council for buying the building in 2006 for $1.5 million. This year, the Victoria Theatre Trust won the right to lease the Victoria for 33 years.

"We're having a march from Calliope Road to the theatre at 10am tomorrow, led by a piper with vintage cars. There'll be a big welcome and an aerial photo of everyone out in front, and the door will open," she said.

"For most of the day, there'll be performances by kids from the local schools and the Devonport Folk Club in the downstairs theatre while upstairs we'll be showing a selection of New Zealand short films, all for free and all suitable for kids."

A documentary on the history of the Vic will play in the smallest cinema.

Tomorrow night, Outrageous Fortune star Robyn Malcolm and commentator David Slack will host a party where musicians including Tim Finn will play. Playwright Roger Hall will officially reopen the cinema on Tuesday, the exact date of the 98th anniversary of its 1912 opening.

Guests have been invited to see The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski.

On Wednesday, the theatre is to host a concert by four local bands.

Public film screenings will start on Thursday.

INSIDE THE VIC

Three Devonport theatres:

* 180-seat Victoria.
* 116-seat Albert.
* 44-seat Benwell.

- NZ Herald

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