Historic Lido reopens as an eight-plex

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Day and Date Down Under

The Lido in Hawthorn, in suburban Melbourne, has just opened as a new eight-plex. The cinema is on the site of a 104-year-old single-screen cinema that last showed a movie in 1995. Some of the original elements that have been retained include circular stained-glass windows and the hand-painted pressed-metal ceiling from the original Glenferrie Cinema. That ceiling had been covered during one of several renovations of the cinema during its long history. Owner Eddie Tamir loves old cinemas. "I'm a sucker for old buildings,” he said. Eddie also restored the Classic in Elsternwick and the Cameo in Belgrave. This new cinema also has an outdoor roof cinema that will open on warm summer evenings.

Hugh Jackman is keen to make a new film about American circus impresario P.T. Barnum in Australia. Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon have written the script of The Greatest Showman on Earth for director Michael Gracey. Other locations are also being considered.

Blue Dog, a prequel to Aussie hit Red Dog, has just started filming in Western Australia. The 1960s-set tale centers on a lonely young boy who rescues a dog, and the friendship that ensues. In Australia , people with red hair are often nicknamed “Blue” or “Bluey,” so it comes as no surprise to us that the boy names the red pup “Blue.” Starring in this family comedy/drama are Bryan Brown, Jason Isaacs and John Jarratt, with Levi Miller as the boy. Roadshow Films will distribute in Australia along with Good Dog Enterprises.

TV's “The Mentalist,” Aussie Simon Baker is about to make his feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of Tim Winton's top-selling book, Breath, about two teens in 1970s Australia who form a friendship with a reclusive surfer (played by Baker) and his wife. Gerard Lee (Top of the Lake) is adapting the novel.

Aden Young, Aaron Pedersen, Oscar Redding and Chris Sommers have been cast in Jonathan Auf der Hyde's upcoming outback thriller, Mongrel. The Australia-U.K. co-production starts filming in Queensland in the second half of the year. The story follows a hunting trip for a family man and his mates that goes very wrong when his dogs attack a young city couple.

New Zealand patrons hate talkers, according to a recent poll. The most irritating movie annoyance is talking during the film (46%), followed by mobile phone use (24%) and loud, smelly, messy food consumption (10%).

Cinemas and theatres have always attracted ghosts, especially many of the older single-screen cinemas. But it seems that modern multiplex cinemas can also host the friendly, or unfriendly, creatures. Cinema Four at Melbourne's Jam Factory is said to have a ghost who smokes a cigar, and the odor of the cigar can often be detected around closing time. Is Cinema Four really attractive to ghosts? Cinema Four at the Cinema Nova is also said to host a supernatural being, a pale little girl who runs about the cinema. At the Rivoli in Melbourne, also in cinema four, an employee was picking up popcorn and saw a figure on the side twice, but when he looked directly, it was not there. He also saw the curtains move as if somebody was behind them.

Toowoomba's Strand Cinema is said to be Australia's oldest purpose-built cinema. It has also been a church, a hotel and picture gardens and is now a cinema again. In past years it was reported to house a ghost in one of the upstairs rooms, the spirit of a welcoming lady who was said to have been killed there. Patrons buying a $20 box of matches would get a box with a key and when they went upstairs she was in that room.

One of the most ghost-infested theatres in the Southern Hemisphere is the St. James in Wellington. Built in 1912, it was the first steel-framed and reinforced concrete theatre in the world, and its initial offerings were mainly silent films. Over the years its attractions varied between live theatre and cinema, but its last cinema screening is said to be Wanted, Dead or Alive in 1987. The theatre was closed for about 10 years while fights went on about whether it should be restored or demolished. It reopened in 1997 as a live theatre, but does play an occasional film. There are several ghosts said to occupy the premises—a Russian performer named Yuri who fell from the flies above the stage, a wailing woman who was booed off the stage while trying to make a comeback, and a boys choir who played their last concert at the theatre during World War II. They sailed off on a world tour and were never seen again.

Is your cinema haunted? Do you know of particular incidents at a cinema? If so, please send me an e-mail at insidemovies@hotmail.com.