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Adelaide’s Lost Picture Theatres; Part Two

Photo from the State Library. The Metro was closed in 1975 and completely changed by Greater Union - it was painted purple and reopened as Hindley Cinemas.

Photo from the State Library. The Metro was closed in 1975 and completely changed by Greater Union – it was painted purple and reopened as Hindley Cinemas.

Metro Theatre

One of the most beautiful Art Deco style buildings in Adelaide, the Metro in Hindley St, was built by MGM.

It was the only MGM Metro Theatre in Australia to be equipped with fittings sent direct from the USA and was designed by noted American theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb, in association with local architect F. Kenneth Milne.

The Metro Theatre opened in 1939, with a seating capacity for 1,286 patrons in air-conditioned comfort in the stalls, dress circle and lounge.

The seating was especially designed for patron comfort and the colour scheme toned with the pastel brown, beige and gold of the auditorium and the rich burgundy carpets.

On each side of the proscenium, four indented columns diffused amber light which beamed up towards the ceiling.

Sturt Theatre

Here’s a great photo of yet another of our lost picture theatres. The Sturt Theatre was located in Rundle St and originally started its life as The Grand Picture Theatre when it opened in

Photo from Frank Hall. The Sturt Theatre just after it closed was renovated and turned into offices

Photo from Frank Hall. The Sturt Theatre just after it closed was renovated and turned into offices

1916.

In the early 1930s, the auditorium decorations were changed to an Art Deco style, and the name was changed to the Mayfair Theatre.

Again in the early ‘50s it was modernised and began screening long runs of major films and was renamed the Sturt Theatre. Seating was provided for 700 in orchestra and balcony levels.

The Sturt Theatre was closed in February 1976, and has now been remodelled into offices.

West’s Theatre

Remember going to the pictures at West’s Theatre in Hindley St?

Photo from the State Library of SA. Wests Picture Theatre on the south side of Hindley St in 1975, just two years before its closure.

Photo from the State Library of SA. Wests Picture Theatre on the south side of Hindley St in 1975, just two years before its closure.

West’s Olympia was built in 1939 and closed in 1977 when it became part of the Greater Union Hindley Cinemas, which in turn closed as a picture theatre in 1991.

The site then remained vacant for many years, but in 2001 it was returned to its former glory retaining many of its art deco features, in particular the grand staircase that leads up to a mezzanine level in the entrance foyer.

It now houses the Grainger Studio of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, continuing its entertainment links.

Majestic Theatre

The Majestic Theatre was “the most modern theatre in Adelaide during 1916”, according to anAdvertiser report of the day.

It was located in King William St and was adjoined to the Majestic Hotel. It remained as one of Adelaide’s leading picture theatres right up until 1967 when it underwent renovations and

Photo from the State Library of SA. Despite a public petition for heritage listing and protection, the Majestic building was demolished in 1981 and a Commonwealth Bank was built on the site.

Photo from the State Library of SA. Despite a public petition for heritage listing and protection, the Majestic building was demolished in 1981 and a Commonwealth Bank was built on the site.

reopened as the Celebrity Theatre and Restaurant.

In 1969 there was another change. This time it became a cinema and live theatre and was renamed The Warner Theatre. It closed on March 31, 1979.

My Fair Lady Theatre

Remember the My Fair Lady Theatre in Hindley St which was opened in 1966 especially for the Audrey Hepburn film My Fair Lady?

It was originally owned and operated by Warner Bros, but was later taken over by Roadshow Theatre’s chain, with the name shortened to Fair Lady Theatre.

Photo from the State Library of SA. In October 1988, a rock show and disco named ‘Farewell to a Fair Lady’ was held to say goodbye to the building. It was demolished in 1989.

Photo from the State Library of SA. In October 1988, a rock show and disco named ‘Farewell to a Fair Lady’ was held to say goodbye to the building. It was demolished in 1989.

It was finally taken over by an independent operator and was closed on February 21, 1988.

The Fair Lady Theatre was demolished in late 1989.

A small shopping mall was built on the site, which included a 5-screen Greater Union Hindley St cinema, located at the rear that has now also closed.

There have been other movie theatres in Adelaide in more recent times which have also closed including the Imax in Rundle St, Wallis Academy Cinema in Hindmarsh Square and Nova Cinema, which eventually combined with Palace Cinema in Rundle St.

As Wallis program director Bob Parr noted when the Academy closed in 2007: “There’s been a shift in how people go to see films and the suburban multiplexes are where most people are going these days to watch their movies”.

The days of the grand, luxurious picture theatres in the city have all but gone but there are many wonderful memories we can still share about those golden Hollywood years when actors like Mickey Rooney graced the big screen and a when a night out at the pictures was a special occasion to be enjoyed and remembered.

7 Responses to Adelaide’s Lost Picture Theatres; Part Two

  1. Hilary February 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    I used to work part time usheretting at the Metro in the early 60’s. I remember the first time I worked there Sound of Music was playing and our uniforms coincided with the theme of the film. In the breaks, some of the girls used to duck downstairs for a Bex with their coffee. I wonder what their innards are like today

    • Edward March 26, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

      Hilary I think you’ll find that the Sound of Music screened at the Plaza Theatre down the lane from the Regent in Rundle St.
      That film did not screen at the Metro.

      • david ware January 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

        Yes… The Sound Of Music screened at the Plaza/Paris, as this is where My parents took me to see it. 20th Century Fox pictures were screened there and at Hoyts Regent. It NEVER screened at the Metro theatre.

  2. Tonya Atkin September 22, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Hi there – researching the Fair Lady Theatre for my son’s school project I came across this page and would like to further comment on the in-accurate information relating to the Fair Lady Theatre. At no stage was the theatre owned by any of the movie companies, it was privately owned by an Adelaide family who reluctantly sold it in approx 1986. They also owned a couple of other iconic Adelaide cinemas, such as the Warner Theatre and the Globe. I am unsure of who owned it for the period 1986-1989.

    • david ware January 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

      Just out of interest, Tonya, what was the reason for research on the Fair Lady theatre? thanks

  3. Jeff Wheare September 15, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    West’s Olympia was Adelaide’s first permanent Picture Theatre when it opened in December 1908!
    It was rebuilt in 1939 when MGM announced it had purchased land directly opposite and ‘Gone With The Wind’ was in production. Metro and the NEW Wests opened in December 1939 and in 1940 “Gone With the Wind” screened simultaneous at Metro and Wests.
    The Plaza was renamed the Paris and opened with the “Sound of Music” on 17/2/66 It screened for a Season of 107 weeks.

  4. Donald July 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    Was there a cinema at 10 Semaphore road semaphore. I am sure there was but can not remember the name?

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