Monday, November 14, 2011

Cinema Suburbia

Balmoral in the 1920s
Balmoral is a suburb approx.5km from the centre of Auckland City.
Much of the area dates from the 1920s-1930s, and a feature is the numerous Asian restaurants in the Balmoral shopping area: they'd rival Auckland's upper Queen St area for the title of 'Chinatown'.
Among those shops, the largest building is the neo-Greek-styled Capitol Cinema...
It opened in Aug.1923, one of the earliest (and most luxurious) of several suburban theatres built in that decade. It could seat over 900, with electricity initally supplied by an on-site generator (but by Oct.1923 management announced to the public they were “now connected with the City Electric power service”).
'Talkies' arrived in 1929 and, after renovations in 1934, the theatre was floodlit in colour to be a focal point of the area.
By 1974 the Capitol Cinema was Auckland's largest suburban theatre still standing, and was upgraded to show "a better type of movie”. It was gutted by fire in 1978 and closed, but this was not its final curtain...
It reopened in 1986 as a circle-only operation called Charlie Grey’s. Since then, it's been an up­market art house cinema and the home of Bollywood cinema. Now it shows independent movies in one half (seating 130), while in the stalls area is an indoor climbing venue (!!!).
The Capitol is an intimate and comfortable film-haven, one of few suburban theatres left (57 suburban cinemas existed across Auckland at various times: now they can be virtually counted on one hand). It's hoped it'll remain as a Balmoral landmark for many years to come.
The Capitol Cinema, Dominion Rd., Balmoral
[read also about the Victoria Picture Palace Theatre, re-opened with love in Devonport, Oct.2010...]

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