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History of the Regent Theatre: 1995

By Allan Webb Prev | Next

The Christmas School Holidays in 1995 were not very strong, nor was the product. The Mask with Jim Carrey was the best film by far and repeats of The Lion King and Once Were Warrior were put in to fill the gaps.

One week in February went as low as 262 admits but Forrest Gump did very good business and lasted for 19 weeks.

Batman Forever and The Little Rascals and Dumb and Dumber gave good results in the mid term break attaining 5,500 admits (the opening of Cinema 3 helped to increase admissions).

The September school holidays ended up with reasonable admissions but there were a lot of films showing to get the totals so as a result each performance was very quiet and some films were only getting a handful of people.

Casper was the best film by far. The end of this year did not go as low as previous years.

I could see that the South Pacific Coffee Lounge business was deteriorating. The premises and fittings were getting very tatty and the owner decided to join the Police Force and leave his wife to operate the business. I went to the Bank and asked if I could get a loan to build a third screen in the Coffee Lounge area when the lease expired. Shortly after this, the manager asked to be released from his lease obligations. I went straight back to the Bank and told them that it was not going to be a couple of years, but a couple of months. The project was put into full swing. It had to be opened by the mid-year school holidays. I was not happy with the progress so the building consultant made up a time chart. However, I had to tell the builder that if it wasn't ready in time, then we would miss out on too much business and they wouldn't get paid. That was enough for everyone to get together and move forward. Unfortunately, the equipment “specialists” did not do their homework and found that the projector would not fit into the small projection room and had to switch it with the one in Cinema 2. The platter and lenses were not ordered in sufficient time and second hand ones were put temporarily in place. Overall the new theatre was not really ready for the opening but operable, although there were a number of problems because the new equipment was not installed in time. Everyone says that either the Manner's Mall, Wellington, installation or ours was the worst ever completed in New Zealand. Both were done simultaneously by Greater Union Village Technology under the supervision of an extremely incompetent manager who was given sufficient details in advance so that there should have been no difficulties with the install. The Building Consultant had not carried out his survey carefully enough and therefore the sight-lines were incorrect so it was difficult to see all of the screen if there was someone sitting in front of you. The air conditioning was not ordered in time but the manufacturers provided a bigger than required unit so that it would be in use in time for the opening. There were a lot of problems in trying to maintain a steady temperature and it took a long time, a lot of experimenting and expense to attain an ideal temperature. The projection equipment installation results were most disappointing and there were breaks with the films because of this. The picture on the screen was the incorrect size and of poor focus because the correct lenses were still to arrive and inferior and incorrect ones had to be used. A number of people would not attend a showing if it was to be in this theatre and this continued for a long time afterwards even when all the matters were addressed, which took about five years.

The equipment and air conditioning were brought up to standard and a new Building Consultant was contracted to re-build the floor and provide good sightlines by reducing the seating from 53 to 40 which was on the negative side as far as attendances were concerned, especially as all the seats were often required. However, on the positive side we would have patrons that would be satisfied with the viewing and comfort as well as the surroundings. This theatre has become the most favoured amongst females and the elderly – there are virtually no steps to ascend. This redevelopment was completed in October, 1999, and a new sound system was installed in October, 2001.

Cinema 3 did open in time for the July School Holidays, which were very successful. Overall the venture was a success and without a tenant and cooking smells to worry about, control of the premises was tightened. In this conversion the small entrance foyer and service bureau were all dismantled and provision for new facilities were built giving much more room for everything as well as a proper manager's office.

This opened up the whole area to provide a large and very attractive foyer, which helped considerably with the flow of traffic. A new Ticket Office and Confectionary Bar were erected which helped considerably with service and movement of the patrons. A new screen was placed in 2000 and a new amplifier and centre channel speaker unit was put in place at the end of 2001, together with a new draw curtain.

The façade was repainted from the green colours to a royal blue and burgundy with the letters REGENT THEATRE picked out in gold.

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