Thank goodness going to the movies is back in fashion because I love eating in the dark - choc-tops, huge vats of popcorn, gallons of Coke, or sneakily scoffing an entire bag of chocolate M&M's (large, of course). Somehow, being surrounded by swirly carpet and gold handrails just makes me hungry. Going to the movies is such a break away from the mundane every day. Walk through the doors of a cinema and you walk into another space in time, another time in space, that makes you forget what you should be doing and gives you time to dream. And thank goodness independent suburban cinemas are alive and well. Thriving, in fact. The massive global-brand multiplex cinemas with their slippery floors and glaring lights just don't do it for me; give me atmospheric, quirky, velvet-clad décor, soft lighting and I'm channelling my inner movie star. The 1920's and 30's was one of the most creative periods in cinema history, with art-deco design being the favourite style of the day. Here are a few of my favourites. Where are yours?
the grand bar and lounge at Cremorne Orpheum cinema
The Cremorne Orpheum, 380 Military Road, Cremorne, would be one of the most beautiful art-deco cinemas left in Australia. This beautiful old picture palace was built in 1935, and lovingly restored by Mike Walsh O.B.E. in the mid-1980's. It was an icon in another era, able to screen movies plus stage live theatre. Attention to detail in old fittings and art deco furnishings make for an ambience that, as you step through the front door, you also step back in time. Now housing six screens, the main and largest auditorium is The Orpheum, complete with a magnificent Wurlitzer organ that ascends through the floor for Sunday screenings. Each of the six cinemas are individually decorated and bear the names of other iconic cinemas, such as 'The Rex', 'The Arcadia', and 'The Century'. There's a grand lounge and bar area, and plenty of nearby eateries if you make a day of it. Check out their website for special events.
Roseville Cinema, 112 Pacific Hwy, Roseville, is another early-1900's cinema complex that has been saved from destruction. Originally the area's Town Hall, then recruitment centre during WWI, then renamed Traynor's Picture Palace in 1919, it was renovated in 1936 in the art-deco style of the day, with a seating capacity for over 500. I love that it has remained a family-owned business for over two generations. Now a twin-cinema with state-of-the-art digital technology, they pride themselves on showing a diverse range of local and foreign films. There's a 'Crying Room' for littlies and mums, plus the Candy Bar serves coffee. Check out their website for some movie-meal-deals which can be used at the nearby coffee shops. Phone: 02-9416 8555
Collaroy Cinema, 1097 Pittwater Rd, Collaroy, has had an illustrious history. Opening in 1938, renamed The Odeon and leased to Greater Union in 1950, it became independent again in 1967. In 1987 it was sold to Hayden Theatre (who also own Cremorne Orpheum) before finally being bought by United Cinemas in 1989. The wonderful historic building is now heritage-listed and retains many of its original features. It's not particularly flash inside - two cinemas with wheelchair-accessible ground floor screen, but the seating has been updated and it has the mandatory Candy Bar. The building is a well-known landmark on Sydney's northern beaches. There's a bus-stop right at the front, plus, it's right across the road from Collaroy main beach, pool and playground. Collaroy Beach Club and other eateries are nearby, making it a day-out destination. Phone: 02-9971 8668
Golden Age Cinema, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, is in the basement of the beautiful old Paramount building, built in 1940. It was originally the screening room of Paramount Pictures, previewing movies to cinema owners. In 2013 the owners converted it into a 60-seat cinema and bar, complete with 1940's-style cinema seats from Switzerland. It screens classic films plus new releases and has full disabled access. The downstairs cavernous venue has a particular atmosphere all its own. Phone: 02-9211 1556
Ritz Cinema, 45 St. Pauls Street, Randwick, is another fine example of early 1900's art-deco architecture. Initially independent, it has been owned by Hoyts, the Brigidine Sisters order of nuns, before finally being refurbished by the current owners in the late 1990's. Still family owned, the heritage-listed complex has disabled access to all six screens, designated wheelchair seating, and a T-loop in most cinemas for the hearing-impaired. There are six screens, plus on-site licensed bar and outdoor terrace. Check out the Australian Film Walk of Fame on the front footpath. Phone: 02-8324 2500
Where are the best suburban cinemas? Tell what you love most about the one near you. It may be old and funky, or updated sleek and modern.
Hi Sue, I enjoy movies at independent cinemas too, the Cremorne Orpheum is great! If anyone is travelling up North for Christmas, visit The Saraton at Grafton. It's a heritage cinema with city movies at country prices. Cheers Marie