Cinema and Audience Research Project

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Name Hoyts Theatres Limited / Skyline Theatre / Hoyts Drive-In Theatre
State Unknown
Country Australia

Melbourne dentist Dr Arthur Russell, who was, in his spare time, a cornet player and a magician, purchased a share in a small American travelling circus, known as Hoyts Circus, and travelled with them as the resident magician. After a financially disastrous run, Russell returned to his work as a dentist.

He began his screen career in 1906 when he leased the old St. Georges Hall in Bourke Street, Melbourne(later known as the Hoyts Esquire), and began showing short films on Saturday nights. Unlike his previous venture, it was successful, and as a result, he formed a new company called Hoyts Pictures Pty. Ltd. which soon expanded into the suburbs.

In 1926, Hoyts and two other companies, Electric Theatres Pty. Ltd. and Associated Theatres Pty. Ltd., merged to become Hoyts Theatres Limited, creating a 70 screen circuit (comprising 60 in the Melbourne suburbs and the rest in metropolitian areas of New South Wales and Western Australia. By 1929 the Hoyt's circuit expanded to more than 100. In 1930, the Fox Film Corporation (now Twentieth Century Fox) secured a major shareholding in the company, and funded further expansion.

1932-5 merged with Union Tehatres to form General Theatre corporation (180 cinemas Australia wide)

1950 merged with Fullers

1951 merged with Watermans Ozone

In 1953 Fox introduced Cinemascope, and every Hoyts house was converted to accommodate this new format. Simultaneously Hoyts initiated splash releases, playing pictures in Sydney and Melbourne suburbs day and date with city venues.

The first drive-in theatre in Australia was opened by Hoyts at Burwood, Vic in 1954. Theatre Managers: Hoyts Drive-In Theatre, Oakleigh; Hoyts Drive-In Theatre, Preston

In 1964/6 it began a multi-million dollar expansion, modernisation and replacement program, commencing with the construction of the Cinema Centre in Bourke St, Melbourne at a cost of $4.5 million. Modern cinemas were also opened in Adelaide and Perth; and in September 1976 the Roxy Theatre, Parramatta was converted to a triplex. In 1976 Hoyts opened their biggest venture yet- a 7 cinema complex called the Hoyts Entertainment Centre
In 1978/8 Hoyts Distribution was established (the last of the exhibition giants to enter distribution- they released Crocodile Dundee and Man from Snow River).

Hoyts diversified in the 70's taking over Goddard Industries 1979 (amusement machines).

1979 20th Century Fox bought 90% of the preferential shares. All of the ordinary shares were owned by 20th century fox anf by Atnea Insurance (only the preference shares were listed on the Stock Exchange till 1976), then from august 1982 by Stardawn Investments.

In1983 Hoyts entered the homevideo field when it joined forces with major distributor as RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video

1986 Hoyts opened the first multiplex in a suburban shopping centre (Chadstone)
Hoyts sold its 50% interest in 21 drive-ins to the other shareholder. April 1985 the Fink family (formerly quarter share-holder) bought out the other partners, consolidated all the Fink and Hoyts companies into Hoyts Corporation. Hoyts thetares was just one wing of this operation, incorporating theatre ownership and Hoyts Entertainmetn Ltd (film distribution interests, televsion intersts, Val Morgan, and Hoyts Media Ltd- mainly radio)

'Hoyts highlights' Variety 13 August 1986. p. 60