Paramount's Sydney office to reopen as single-screen cinema


In 1940, Paramount Pictures opened their new Australian offices in a beautiful art-deco building in Sydney called Paramount House. (20th Century Fox had their building next door, but that has now been demolished.) The premises included a lovely screening room seating about 60. Some time after the formation of UIP, which combined the operations of Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures for many territories outside North America, Paramount left the building. It was used for several years by a film and TV production company, but they later found alternative premises. Recently, an up-market restaurant has been located in the building, while the old screening room has been used as a storage room for many years. Two Italian projectors remained in the projection box, one containing a melted film in its gate from the last use several decades ago.

The Paramount logo (the 1940s version) still proudly displays the building's heritage above the main entrance, and the screening room is set to become the first new single-screen cinema in Sydney in over 20 years. Featuring 60 old-style seats, which were imported from Sweden, the Golden Age Cinema and Bar opened as a cinema again on Sept. 6 of this year with Behind the Candelabra. (The HBO film has been a theatrical release in most territories outside the U.S.) The cinema will feature new releases plus some sub-run films, cult pics, classics and a special Tuesday screening at original prices. The Graduate will be shown at the 1967 price of $2.50 per ticket and The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup at the hard-to-believe 1933 price of five cents per seat. A café is due to open shortly in the building along with a number of retail outlets.

Reading Cinemas signed a deal with Christie to convert all remaining 35mm screens to digital in Australia and New Zealand using Solaria series equipment. Reading feels the delay has benefited them, as they are now getting state-of-the-art equipment for their 200 screens. This will make Australia around 93% digital by the end of October. At this date, distributors will probably be supplying only around 14 to 20 35mm prints to cinemas for wide releases. Almost all of the cinemas yet to convert to digital are independent cinemas, and distributors have previously said they will stop supplying 35mm prints at some time in the near future, but no date has been announced. The Independent Cinema Owners Association says there are around 140 35mm cinemas still operating in Australia.

I will be at the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast this October and look forward to meeting readers there. With the U.S. dollar currently worth $1.10 Australian, now is the time to plan a visit to the 2014 conference next October.

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