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History of the Regent Theatre: 1979

By Allan Webb Prev | Next

The First Film Festival was played in 1979, but only managed to attract 711 people in nine sessions, with nine titles. Alternative films from all over the World were just not accepted in the smaller locations and subtitled films were not acceptable.

There have been “dead” business periods that you can “count on” each year, unless a particularly strong film is being shown. The middle of winter can be very quiet and November can be definitely “counted” on to be disastrous. (In more recent years February and March have been very quiet due to the beginning of the school year and taxes at the beginning of February and March). On the other hand, January is generally a good month and the school holiday periods in May and August have always been the “icing on the cake”.

The May School Holidays came up with a first release film called The Wilderness Family. It was the second in the series which started the previous year with Sea Gypsies. In six days and 13 sessions, 3,976 people turned up to see it. I decided to put it on for four more shows at the tail end of the holidays and a further 216 came. As mid term breaks came into being and were gradually increased from one day to two days and then one week to two weeks, they became one of the most successful periods of the year. However, since the introduction of four terms, (Te Awamutu having been one of the few first experimental schools to under go this) the April and September holidays have never been what the previous May and August holidays used to be.

The Clint Eastwood hit movie Every Which Way But Loose had been flogged at Hamilton but we still managed to get 1,246 in six days then extended it for three more days and got a further 719 people.

Superman the Movie was the Christmas attraction in Hamilton. It was a long film and we were not allowed to have an interval. There was a half hour supporting programme to play first and with the film at two and a half hours, that made the programme far too long for children who were quite restless in those days, as they weren't used to sitting long hours watching videos and the like. I refused to play it. I knew of others who did and had intervals although the Film Company tried to police it. They were shocked that I turned it down because of the no-interval clause, which they lifted later on. I put it on for a few sessions just before the mid-term break in 1979 and only 650 came. I decided to put it on for the mid-term break holiday Monday and 203 more children attended.

A small film, International Velvet, played for four matinees in the August School Holidays and to my complete amazement, 890 people came. It was nice little surprises like that which made you feel really good. During those same holidays we had a religious film called Silent Witness. It didn't do huge business (60 odd a session) but the Catholic Church wanted us to put on a special showing for them, which I arranged. I had a migraine at the time and unfortunately, couldn't come to the showing. They gave me a copy of Good News for Modern Man as they were so pleased with the film. Inside they wrote “In remembrance for showing the film 'Silent Witness' 22/4/80 to parishioners of St. Pat's. Many thanks.” In 2002, I still have that book. Not very often do you get much thanks for anything you do for people, but it's wonderful when you do.

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