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                                              Brian Miller and Ian Smith

            The theatres of eastern Victoria and  disillusioned by what he saw as  Cinema  Seats      Sound
          south-east New South Wales were the  unreasonable hire conditions. Enter
                                                                               One         208        Dolby
          excuse to travel some of the most  John Humphrey, who took a lease on
                                                                               Two         180        DTS
          picturesque country roads in Australia.  the FCR Cinema to get to know the
                                                                               Three        99        Optical SR
          From 19th-25th October, 28 CATHS  town and its tastes. Calling it Cinema
          members inspected six operational  World, John soon decided that the    The Picture Show Man Cinema at
          cinemas and many more defunct ones,  location was ‘out of sight, out of mind.’  Merimbula opened in 1997 replacing an
          two of which may be due for a revival  While hatching plans for a multiplex,  earlier cinema of the same name.
          of fortune.                       John moved his screenings back to the  Demand at peak holiday times is met
            Discussion with theatre operators is  former BREC, enlarged in 1996 and re-  by more sessions – seven to eight per
          the way to learn the state of cinema in  named Bairnsdale Aquatic and  day, per screen - not by large auditoria:
          country towns. The early achievers  Recreation Centre.               Cinema One seats 185 and Cinema Two
          have found their niche markets, while  John opened his three-screen  seats 168.
          in towns now lacking a cinema     Cinema Centre at Easter 1994, one     The projectors are re-conditioned
          enthusiasts are planning a turn-around  street south of the town centre. This  Century heads with new Christie
          for ailing buildings. No two situations  attractive theatre offers first release  Xenolite light sources and new Dolby
          are identical, but experience offers  features and has attracted a clientele  Panastereo/Panalogic sound.
          some guidelines. One view was that a  from all age groups: teens, middle-brow
                                                                                  The cinema is in a prime location. It
          population of 15,000 is the critical  and art house. As with most
                                                                               shares a car park with a supermarket
          number for a viable cinema; and that by  independent installations, much of the
                                                                               opposite a popular Club and meals
          keeping an ear to the ground, it is  projection equipment has come from
          possible to get a 90 percent solution for  other locations. In this case, two of the
          10 percent of the cost. Here then is a  Century projectors were from a Drive-
          sampling of issues and highlights from  In in the Western District and the one in
          a week on the road.               Cinema 3 was ex- Merimbula. A
                                            measure of John’s forward thinking is
          LOCATION, LOCATION,               that there is room on the site to build
          LOCATION.                         another screen.
            The story of films in Bairnsdale is a
          good example of the way entrepreneurs,
          from the mid-sixties, faced a trial and
          error search for new ways to include
          cinema in the life of a town. Bob
          Latimer was one local who grew up on
          films at the Prince Regent and
          watched with regret when it closed.
          When the Bairnsdale Recreation and
          Education Centre (BREC) opened in
          1982 he saw the opportunity to run
          films there twice a week.
            Confident that the town could
          support a new cinema Bob joined a
          syndicate to build a combined squash
          court and cinema two km out of town
          in a new estate. Bob was convinced that
          the Forge Creek Road Cinema could
          work as a single screen showing a
          range of films at times chosen to suit
                                             Top: The twin at Merimbula.
          different age groups. He was right, until
                                             Above: The simple but effective exterior of the Bairnsdale triple. The foyer continues
          distributors began to link film access to
                                             the angular theme and uses cool shades of blues and greens offset by yellow strip
          exclusive screen use. Bob sold out,
          8   2005 CINEMARECORD
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