Cinema and Audience Research Project

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Name Village Roadshow Limited / Village Drive-In Pty Ltd / Village Theatres Limited
Address 206 Bourke Street
Suburb/Town Melbourne
State Victoria
Country Australia

The Kirby group (!Company: 402), led by Roc Kirby, opened a small chain of hard-top cinemas in Melbourne suburbs in the forties. Kirby joined forces with Bill Spencer and Ted Alexander in 1954 to form Village Theatres. The company, also listed as Village Drive-In Pty Limited, opened its first drive-in Venue: 644! early in 1955, then expanded the circuit in the suburbs (Rowville, Essendon) and country areas (Hamilton, Wangaratta, stawell and Launceston Tasmania). Associations with Greater Union began in the early sixties, when Village went into partnership with GU to build a Geelong drive-in. Eventually Greater Union bought a one-third interest in Village.

Roadshow Distributors was formed in 1968, one third owned by Village.Its profits on the re-issue rights of South Pacific were so large that it expanded, obtained the American International Pictures franchise, and invested more money in cinema building.

Association also with Dendy circuit and Filmways (arthouse product). Distributed disney in Australia.

In the late seventies provided investment finance and or distribution advances on many Australian films.

It diversified in the late seventies, opening a car racing tracks in Sydney and Village Family Entertainment Centres (pinbal games) in Melbourne.

1984- 30 screens closed nation-wide. Village closed eight hard-tops in 12 months, prices were dropped to encourage patronage.

1985 opened the Bourke Street cinema in Melbourne

1987 planned to go public (float in Stock Exchange). Mainly held by the Kirby family at this time but also substantial holdings by Greater Union.

In 1987 joint venture with Greater union to put multiplexes in shopping complexes (Westfield, airport West and Doncaster) Greater Union to manage those in NSW, SA and WA. Village to manage those in Vic. Birch, Carroll & Coyle to manage those in QLD

1988 Village restructured, bought Ariadne's 20% share in De Laurentis Entertainment and then a further 20% to be the largest shareholder- for sake of studio (planned on Gold Coast) and to invest in Australian production

1989 opened studios. Village Roadshow bought shares in Anglia Television from the Liberman family company with the aim to get into the British and European Market

1989 Greg Coote appointed president subsidary company, village Roadshow Pictures In - to produce in the US, acquire product for ditribution and promote use of Village Gold Coast studios.

1990 expanded Warner Roadshow Studios, new management Mcmahon and Lake. (1992 VIllage Roadshow purchased McMahon and Lake outright.)

Village/Warner/ Greater Union theatre division still building multiplexes (11 in total by 1992). Roadshow Distrutors jointly owned with GUO distributed 37% of market share 1992. Built the Movie World theme park in Surfers Paradise in 1995. also built multiplexes such as Jam Factory and Casino in Melbourne.

1995 Greater Union with Village Roadshow owned half of Roadshow Film Distributors

1995 built multiplexes in Italy, Greece, Hungary, singapore and Thailand with plans to build in Malaysia, hong kong, Taiwan nd Korea.

In 1996 Village cinemas in Australia = 250 screens

1996- Chairman of Village Roadshow is Robert Kirby son (son of Roc)


Film Weekly (22 October 1970, p. 24.) reviews the history of Village Theatres.
Joynson, T 1995 'Village roadshow reports profit leap' Age March 15, p. 27
Jones, M 1996 'The village roadshow shows no sign of stopping' Age September 12
Jones, M 1996 'village to go big with new cinemas' Business Age February 29.
Kidman, M 1996 'Village cheif with global dreams' Sydney Morning Herald May 27, pp.33-6
Schulze, J 1999 'Global Village profits up 10%' Age September 10
'Village Drive-ins appoints a new management team' Film Weekly September 28, 1967

Village Roadshow Limited- company history

(note: See AFI Research Collection clippings file: Village Roadshow