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New Cinema for Civic

By colsim 15 September 2005 12

Electric Shadows Cinema will be working with the independent cinema group, Dendy Cinemas, to establish a new multi-screen cinema complex in the Section 84 development, on Bunda Street, Canberra City.

The cinema complex, expected to open late in 2006, will have 9 screens and will program a wide selection of “alternative” art-house films as well as the best of mainstream releases.

I’m not one to parrot press releases but liking a good flick from time to time, this seems like a good thing.


Electric Shadows Cinema will be working with the independent cinema group, Dendy Cinemas, to establish a new multi-screen cinema complex in the Section 84 development, on Bunda Street, Canberra City.

The cinema complex, expected to open late in 2006, will have 9 screens and will program a wide selection of “alternative” art-house films as well as the best of mainstream releases.

Dendy Cinemas operates the prestigious Opera Quays complex and the Dendy Newtown in Sydney, plus cinemas in Brisbane, Byron Bay and central Melbourne. Canberra will be a significant addition to their group.

Dendy also has a film distribution arm that has been responsible for many notable releases at Electric Shadows in recent years, including SUPER SIZE ME, THE WEEPING CAMEL, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, and the French film, LOOK AT ME.

Andrew Pike of Electric Shadows says “This is great news for film culture in Canberra. Electric Shadows has had a wonderful relationship with Canberra’s audiences for more than 25 years. This new cinema complex will ensure that the city will have a world-class, high quality cinema to continue the tradition into the next generation.”

The new cinema will marry Dendy’s national reach and resources, and their commitment to quality and diverse cinema, to Electric Shadows’
rich local tradition. The physical attractions of the new venue will include comfortable seating, a licensed bar, appropriate disabled access, substantial adjacent parking and a sophisticated interior decor.

In the meantime, Electric Shadows will continue as usual at its current venue.

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New Cinema for Civic
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Tempestas 12:17 pm 19 Sep 05

I imagine it will be like the Dendy Quays set up, a couple of 300ish screens with some very intimate 60 odd seat screens and a some 150ish screens. Means that a good cult or indie film can have a long run, moving from the larger to smaller screens as demand changes, possibly at better times too. One of the drawbacks of the two screen ES has been the see it at 5.10 or 9pm if its not the main attraction. The new complex will create much better programming for us punters and having a bar to have a quiet drink or coffee before or after will not be a bad thing at all.

Personally I can’t wait. Maybe the old ES cinemas could become a live music venue, be hard to have neighbours to complain about noise? Well done to Andrew Pike and Dendy.

colsim 10:24 am 19 Sep 05

Hmmm – good point about the digital setup Johnboy (and nice to know there’s a fellow proj on the boards – I do a bit at the ANU film group). Given that Disney is the first (and so far only) studio to commit to supporting digital release financially, I’m guessing we probably won’t be seeing that here just yet but it’s probably worth raising the issue with Andrew Pike for consideration.

I’m thinking we’ll be seeing a bunch of relatively small screens, maybe with one larger one. (but who knows)

Smackbang 9:39 am 19 Sep 05

I wonder how big these 9 cinemas will be? The Canberra Times article said that the current electric Shadows seats 700 pax (total) and the new one will seat 1500 – at least, I think those were the numbers. Now I admit that the Electric Shadows cinemas are unnecessarily long and big, but does this mean we’re in for some cosy and intimate cinema seating, like the Nova in Melbourne or the top floor of Greater Union in Manuka? Because after all, they’re frankly not going to need stadium seating for the types of movies they’re likely to be screening – they just won’t be that popular.

johnboy 10:16 am 17 Sep 05

Actually a single full time projectionist would be an improvement over Hoyts approach where the “projectionist” (usually a spotty kid who Macdonalds rejected) also has management tasks (cashing out tills, dealing with angry customers etc).

If projection have some say in scheduling (i.e. not having multiple films starting at the same time) then a single (dedicated) projectionist is fine to run a focus check during opening credits and most of the rest of the process is automated. (although last time I was in a projection room, which is years ago now, the switch from scope to widescreen lenses, and drawing back the masking [curtains], still needed to be done by hand, and come to think about it given the cockups I still see in the cinemas not much can have changed)

Even hoyts needs multiple guys (yes, normally guys with the heavy lifting that comes with cinema prints) on the night before the scheduling changes (wednesday night here in Australia).

Most of the work is cutting trailers and advertising into the print, then getting all the necessary prints pre-positioned on the platters so it’s just a simple lace-up to switch films. (nothing in the world quite like a projection room just after someone’s been running to make a switch and dropped a print)

Having said that, with the switch to digital looming (and the absolutely enourmous cost reductions and safety improvements that will come with it). I wouldn’t want to be betting my career on cinema projection.

Be interesting to know if this new cinema is going to be one of the last built for film or one of the first built for digital.

Frankly i’d trade a miniscule loss in projection quality for the scheduling opportunities and ease of use a fully digital cinema would open up. (to say nothing of losing the cost of lugging huge rolls of very expensive film around the place and through the delivery systems)

While we’re here it’s interesting to note that Hoyts belconnen was, in its day, the only projection room in the world with sprinklers, which had been demanded by the ACT Governement. (no idea what they did in Woden).

Instant death for any projectionist in the room in event of fire, when the water hits the high voltage projectors. Should have been a halon release system but apprently the ACT Government was insistent on the sprinklers.

Anyway I welcome a ‘plex closer than belco or woden because those greater union crap holes aren’t even worthy of the title of Cinema.

It was the movies that made electric shadows special, not the “TunnelVision”.

colsim 2:17 pm 16 Sep 05

Yeah, I get the sense that Electric Shadows will be part of this cinema but they’ll still be largely mainstream – probably something like the Manuka one I guess.

The idea is an interesting one – I’ve also been reading a little bit lately about guerilla driveins – someone hooks up a decent video projector in their car with a small fm transmitter for sound and at late notice announces a location of a blank wall where they’ll screen movies. Anyone got the gear for this?

simto 1:54 pm 16 Sep 05

On the plus side, Andrew Pike, who’s co-runnnig this venture has always been dedicated to a certain level of quality in both projection and in programming.

On the minus side, that hasn’t always paid off wonderfully at the box-office (which is presumably why Electric Shadows hasn’t had a renovation ever since I first started going there in the early 80’s). And a nine-cinema-a-plex probably needs more agressively commercial programming to ensure it doesn’t turn into a money drain (admittedly, two of these are planned as “Gold class cinemas”, but even so, that’s still seven screens to keep regular, cheaper customers entertained).

RandomGit 1:51 pm 16 Sep 05

In six months time they should be seriously vacating.

It’s news like this that make we want to get a event going in this city. I hear the short film scene here is something to be reckoned with.

colsim 12:24 pm 16 Sep 05

It looks like they will – “In the meantime, Electric Shadows will continue as usual in its current venue”

One thing I am a little concerned about with a big nine screen multiplex is whether it will impact on the quality of projection. Your Hoyts and Greater Unions generally just have one or two projectionists running all the screens at once, get it going on move on to the next one – meaning there’s no-one keeping an eye on focus and sound. Hope this isn’t going to be a problem.

Kerces 10:29 am 16 Sep 05

Once again, RA scooped the Canberra Times.

threeze 9:45 am 16 Sep 05

so, are they are going to close the old Electric Shadows then?

b2 9:33 pm 15 Sep 05

well there must be some money in it, 9 screens is quite alot. Greater Union will be pissed, except its a crappy cinema anyway. I’m all for it, better than going to Woden or Belco

Samuel Gordon-Stewart 8:02 pm 15 Sep 05

Sounds interesting, I wonder if Greater Union will put out a press release saying they will suffer?

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