Regent Theatre regent Home Page

History of the Regent Theatre: 1984

By Allan Webb Prev | Next

1984 started off with some very strong movies as well, including Porky's 2 (802), Octopussy, the latest James Bond movie (1,356) and Return of the Jedi (2,693).

Phar Lap was given the same release pattern as The Man From Snowy River and was distributed, once again, by Amalgamated Theatres. They rang me up to offer it for Te Kuiti and Taumarunui. I said we would take the same dates as for Snowy River. They said I could have them for Te Kuiti and Taumarunui but not at Te Awamutu until after Hamilton had played it and that would be later than the other main centres as they couldn't fit it in any earlier. We were back to the same old story of not being able to get films until after Hamilton had finished with them. Naturally, it did not do the business it would have had it been on sooner, although 869 came in nine early evening sessions. I would not play it at the normal evening session time as they would not give it to me when I wanted it.

One week in the May School Holidays we had 3196 people, all to ordinary films. The Day After was a very controversial film made for television about catastrophic after-affects of a nuclear bombing in Kansas. It was given a theatrical release in Australasia with a good advertising campaign and did very well at the Box Office. We had 1,120 people in for the week at the beginning of the school holidays.

Another teenage modern dance musical called Footloose, came out and did some good business. We had 1,292 admits the first week and continued for four more days at early sessions getting a further 580 people.

During the school holidays, some big films were dated into Hamilton. The Carlton (Amalgamated's only Hamilton situation) would screen them for possibly only a week in order for them to play as many titles as possible during the fortnight. The Regent would play the same film for the whole of the holidays with three sessions daily while the Embassy would have what Kerridge Odeon couldn't fit into the Regent, which was their top house. There was always a lot of meat left on the holiday films from the Carlton. However, as mentioned above, after the Regent had finished with them, there was little business left for us. The Te Awamutu people would travel over to Hamilton once or twice in the holidays, make it a big day out for Mum and the kids and take in a movie, which usually meant the one at the Regent had already been seen by too many people before we got it. Te Kuiti and Taumarunui always did much better with those films than we did although normally that was not the case.

Footloose performed very well mid-year with 1,292 the first week and 580 for four odd sessions in a second.

Police Academy had been done to death in Hamilton but managed to get 1,636 people over 10 days. Indiana Jones managed 1,240 spread over 11 days.

The week before Christmas was often pretty good, especially if the right movie was played. This year we had ten titles in various combination double features. Included among them were the three Star Wars features. The week ended up with 1,225 admissions. The mid-weeks over Christmas and New Year were closed.

For me, personally, that year (1984) did not start off very well. On the Sunday of Anniversary Weekend, we had a three Movie Marathon with 210 people. There were four patrons sitting in the back row of the stalls making a nuisance of themselves. The usherette had asked them twice to settle down but they had their feet on the seats, were being noisy and we found out later that they had alcohol as well. I rang the police and a constable came. He got them out of the Theatre and I wanted them to leave. He handled the situation in a weak way and allowed them back on the understanding that they would behave themselves. A week or so after that, on a very hot night, we had the front doors open and I was in the office with the door open. Someone came in from behind and knocked me off my seat onto the floor and kept hitting my head. My glasses had been knocked off and I thought it was an earthquake. When I realized what had happened I called out to the cashier to ring the Police. She had been unaware of what was going on. The Police arrived and took me around in the car to see if we could find the person responsible for the attack and then to the Gresham Clinic to be patched up and to the Police Station to have pictures taken of my face. The attacker was the one who seemed to lead the group of troublemakers on that Sunday night. I had seen him walking through the town, one day in between the events. Nothing happened until Sunday, April 1st when I thought I recognized one of the patrons as possibly being the one that had attacked me although his hair and complexion were different. At the end of the show, I asked the cashier to follow the group and take the number of the car they got in to. I rang the police and told them about it but nothing happened. Some while later I told one of the constables whom I had got to know reasonably well about it. He followed it up by visiting the female who owned the car. She told him the name of the man who was the leader of the group but would say nothing else. He then went to see the man who confessed and was subsequently charged. I had a visit from him and he apologized and asked for the charge to be dropped. As the Police had made the charge it was out of my hands but I wouldn't have let him get away with it, anyway. He was later fined a mere $500 of which half was to be given to me. The sentence was light because he was a sole farm hand and detention or imprisonment would have caused him hardship. The muscles in my eyes were damaged but according to the specialist they would come right within three months. The left eye did but ever since, the right eye has caused problems and by 2001 I had to have special glasses prescribed so that I could see properly. The sight in that eye keeps changing so I have had to have new glasses prescribed regularly, ever since.

This year I had a Speco platter, from America, placed in the projection room to provide long-playing film. The whole programme could now be presented without going up to the projection room and no rewinding was necessary. We were one of the first theatres in New Zealand to have one and it improved the performance because it was a continuous film playing system and there was no changeover of reels. Until Village 5 opened in Hamilton in 1992, there were no other platters in the Waikato.

By this time the independent theatres in the Waikato were feeling the effects of the poor economy and that very small black box called the video. By the end of this year, Te Kuiti was to close forever and the others to gradually have declining audiences and to close for good (Cambridge and Morrinsville both closed with Crocodile Dundee and Matamata with Dirty Dancing about a year after that). How it was that we were doing such exceptionally steady business at that time is something I will never know. Every Saturday night was producing for us the best ever results with a lot of very ordinary movies. Every week was good apart from two disastrous weeks in November, when admissions for the week went down to as low as 320.

However, my experience has led me to believe that when there is an “up”, a “down” is going to follow. I've never been wrong about this. You can never become too complacent when business is good.

Previous | Next