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History of the Regent Theatre: 1986

By Allan Webb Prev | Next

The midweeks over Christmas and New Year were closed again. However, the beginning of 1986 was quite steady and World Safari II was even more successful than its predecessor with 2,057 admissions. The “misses” were becoming more frequent and by March we were down to 285 people in a week. 300-odd weeks were becoming quite commonplace and by the latter part of the year, 188, 198 and 200 odd were becoming more frequent. Out of Africa was our next big film taking $6,330 (1604 people) but this wasn't until May and it was repeated in September getting another 285 people. It was presented in two-track Stereo Sound using an Eprad Starlet processor.

By the August School Holidays, everything was tried to get people back into the Cinema. In the first week we had 14 features but only managed to get 1,068 people. The second week with 18 features, only 1,259 people came. The turn around in film was incredible and the resulting admissions were certainly not reflected in the effort. But worse was to come.

By November we had the all-time low of 116 in a week with Runaway Train coupled with Hell Camp over the weekend and Kiss of the Spiderwoman midweek. We had reached our trough and I was wondering if a peak was ever going to happen again.

During this year I introduced Surround sound to the Theatre as mentioned above. It was another first in the Waikato and one of the first in the country. A complete new sound system was installed with excellent speakers behind the screen and around the auditorium. It took a while for the patrons to get used to it, as sometimes the presence of the surrounds could be annoying. When we first got Stereo Sound, we increased the volume of the feature so that it became noticeable. Unfortunately, films that the elderly attended were ones that I learned to keep the sound down to a lower level as they did not appreciate the use of the surround speakers. They were not used to this kind of sound and considered that there was something wrong because some sound was coming from the side walls. The public had never heard the likes of it before and they had to get used to it and adapt their hearing to accommodate it. The lesson to be learned was that the surrounds should not dominate the sound. Dolby gave the levels in the early days of stereo sound, but the exhibitors wanted the levels to be set louder so they changed the levels to accommodate the wants of their customers. I do not believe that the patrons want loud sounds coming from around the auditorium and have the levels set lower than recommended. We never seem to have people complaining about the surrounds anymore (2002).

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