Final credits roll on Capitol Cinema at Manuka (but a sequel is in the works)

Michael Weaver 12 May 2020 44
The Capitol Theatre at Manuka

The Capitol Theatre at Manuka is closing its doors for good from 15 May 2020. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The historic Capitol Cinemas at Manuka has been closed since the COVID-19 shutdown measures came into place, but yesterday the company formally emailed its members with the news that Capitol Cinemas Manuka would close at the end of its lease on Friday, 15 May.

“We’ve been showing movies at Capitol Cinemas Manuka for many years so the decision was not made lightly,” members were told.

“Together we have shared magical movie moment, first dates, family outings, birthday celebrations, romantic anniversaries, huge belly laughs, exciting adventures and nightmarish scary scenes – and we’ve loved every minute.”

The owners of the site, the Liangis family, lodged a development application in 2018 to build the Capitol Hotel which would include a new six-cinema complex and replace the existing six cinemas at Manuka. That DA was approved in October, however, building works on the $11.4 million project are yet to begin.

John Liangis said last year the new cinema complex would be incorporated into the hotel, be digitalised and have six screens albeit on a smaller scale, with seating from 80 to 120 seats in each space, much like the Palace Electric cinema at NewActon.

Mr Liangis said the current cinema was beyond its use-by date and had reached the end of its commercial viability.

However, he declined to comment further when Region Media contacted him about the cinema.

The Liangis family had also been embroiled with the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna over a protected tree on the site that has been stymieing the development.

The proposed Capitol Hotel

An image from the development application of the proposed Capitol Hotel in Manuka.

The current Capitol Theatre building, which had a dual purpose as a theatre and a cinema, replaced the former structure of the same name that was demolished in 1980.

It was Canberra’s first purpose-built cinema, opening in 1927 with more than 1000 seats.

The original building was demolished in 1980.

Overall there will be no reduction in cinemas in the Territory. A new nine-cinema complex is being built above Kmart in Morriset Street in Queanbeyan, along with a $15 million two-storey, eight-screen complex in Gungahlin which will be operated by United Cinemas.

Both cinemas are expected to be completed in the next 18 months.


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44 Responses to Final credits roll on Capitol Cinema at Manuka (but a sequel is in the works)
Barrie Virtue Barrie Virtue 1:29 pm 15 May 20

Saw Fiddler on the Roof about 50 years ago at an upstairs cinema in Queanbeyan. Can't remember just where it was.

Sue Sutton Sue Sutton 9:20 pm 14 May 20

‘The current Capitol Theatre building, which had a dual purpose as a theatre and a cinema’

Really ? I know the 1927 theatre had this dual feature originally

Nick Swain Nick Swain 5:29 pm 14 May 20

John – I agree. The current cinema has been very poorly maintained for some years. Also agree Manuka Plaza has not worked, probably due to poor integration with the rest of Manuka. The cinema and related buildings need to be replaced with attractive buildings that fit in with the heritage nominated shops. I’d like to see the axis (from Russell) that passes through Telopea Park, Manuka Arcade and The Lawns delineate a good arcade in the new building.

Angela Plant Angela Plant 8:29 am 14 May 20

I last went there a couple of months ago to see the stage presentation of Les Miserables which was fantastic and only $10. The seats were very comfortable and they made a delicious cappuccino. I will miss the cinema there.

Anne Healy Anne Healy 8:17 am 13 May 20

That is not the original Capitol Theatre! My mother worked at the original Capitol Theatre for years! We practically grew up there!!!!
I was so sad to see it demolished.
But that’s what we do in Australia!!

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:23 pm 12 May 20

That's not "The historic Capitol Cinema." That one was bulldozed years ago. The present one is the replacement. This is the historic one.

    Jan Skorich Jan Skorich 4:18 pm 13 May 20

    I'd like to see this one rebuilt. It was a gem, and should have had a heritage listing.

    Shan Weereratne Shan Weereratne 10:07 pm 13 May 20

    Jan Skorich, I concur. However the heritage listing folks are busy these days working hard to protect the Nortbourne Slums.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:16 am 14 May 20

    Shan Weereratne Too late, they were bulldozed ages ago.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 8:16 pm 12 May 20

80-120 seat capacity for each of the screens, why so small?

Nathan Vink Nathan Vink 7:35 pm 12 May 20

That’s about right

Deborah Grahame Deborah Grahame 7:30 pm 12 May 20

Mary Elle, you've seen a few flicks there over the years!

Tracy Ryan Tracy Ryan 7:15 pm 12 May 20

Mark Ryan. Our first date 😘

Widya Santoso Widya Santoso 7:04 pm 12 May 20

I saw Star Wars in that theatre...

Jess Weasley Jess Weasley 6:30 pm 12 May 20

Sam Adams Miranda Debeljakovic Wendy Saunders sad day Sam

Ranjeet Sahi Ranjeet Sahi 6:20 pm 12 May 20

Rehmat Aulakh the theatre where we watched the movie 🎥 😞

    Rehmat Aulakh Rehmat Aulakh 8:11 am 13 May 20

    I am grateful for the memories with you!! 🥰😚

    Ranjeet Sahi Ranjeet Sahi 6:25 pm 13 May 20

    Rehmat Aulakh me too , will make many more 💝🥰

    Rehmat Aulakh Rehmat Aulakh 7:24 pm 13 May 20

    Yes Maasi, looking forward to seeing you again!!

Sandy Bigna Sandy Bigna 6:19 pm 12 May 20

Usha no more movie dates here 😥

Pia Beohm Pia Beohm 6:17 pm 12 May 20

Adriana Kate Gabby Karrii Abbey I will never financially recover from this

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 6:11 pm 12 May 20

Makes sense to start the work now while it is closed due to COVID. It is sad how run down the owners let it get. Interested to know if work has started on the approved Cinema in Queanbeyan?

Emma Llewellyn Emma Llewellyn 6:10 pm 12 May 20

Oh this makes me sad 😞

Gary Hatcliffe Gary Hatcliffe 6:08 pm 12 May 20

I saw 'Jaws' there in 1976. Great memories!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:36 pm 12 May 20

    Gary Hatcliffe you might have seen it in a theatre called Capitol on the same site, but it wasn’t “there” as the original theatre was demolished in 1980 and the current building built in its place.

Bianca Leobaldo Bianca Leobaldo 6:01 pm 12 May 20

Ana Paula Oliveira Crespusculooooo 😭😭😭😭😭

Lisa LaMaitre Lisa LaMaitre 5:42 pm 12 May 20

Not surprised really.. how terrible..

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