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Athenaeum, Melbourne

Venue Summary
Name Athenaeum, Melbourne
Address 188 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Operation Dates 1929-02-02 - 1977-01-19
Capacity 975
Suburban/Country City
Purpose Cinema
Screens 1
Roles
1906-01-01 - 1906-01-31 : Exhibitor : J & N Tait
1909-07-01 - 1909-10-01 : Exhibitor : J & N Tait
Venue Comments

The original two story brick building was erected in 1842. It contained a library, reading room, and a hall where Council met. In 1872, the institute's new hall designed by Alfred Smith, opened as the Melbourne Athenaeum. The upper hall was converted into an art gallery in 1910 and the hall was converted into a theatre in 1921.

The Athenaeum Theatre, as it stands today, was created in 1924, however according to Page (1990) movies were being shown as early as October 1896. Opening night was December 23, 1924. Between 1924 and 1929 many notable shows were staged (Page).

On February 02 1929 Frank Talbot arranged with Union Theatres for the first sound film, The Jazz Singer to be shown at the Athenaeum. Hoyts took control of the cinema in 1931.

From 1932-1948 the theatre showed exclusively British films. It was the only theatre in the world at that time to show exclusively British films. One of the last films to be shown under this arrangement was Hamlet.

Films continued unbroken between 1929 and 1970. Seating capacity records (Film Weekly: Motion Picture Directory) vary from 963- 999. According to Walters (2009) on April 04, 1970 the Athenaeum closed as a picture theatre reopening as a live theatre from April 18 1970. On October 22 1970 the Athenaeum went back to screening films. Closed as a Hoyts Theatre on January 19, 1977 after which live theatre returned.

Film Weekly records the following exhibitors:
F.Talbot Pty Ltd (1946/7-1957/8)
Hoyts Theatres Pty Ltd (1958/9-1971)

Film Weekly records the following changes in seating capacity:
1946/7 = 997
1949/50 = 977
1964/5 = 963
1971 = 975

Some films screened listed in Bertand, I "cinema file: 188 Collins St." (unpublished research).

References

Assorted clippings from Australasian, Bulletin, Leader, Referee, Table Talk and The Theatre can be found in (Bertrand, I cinema file: 188 Collins St. unpublished research).

Cinema & Theatre Historical Society 1997, CInema index : Melbourne cinemas, suburban cinemas, Victorian drive-ins. CATHS, Victoria.

Film Weekly. Film Weekly: Motion Picture Directory. Sydney. 1946/7-1971.

Page, F 1990, 'Melbourne Athenaeum' Kino: journal of the Australian theatre historical society No. 31, pp. 4-8.

Walters, Trevor 2009, The Picture Palaces of Melbourne, p. 181.
Webb, C 2008, 'A star is forlorn: ageing theatre queen cries out for a little make-up', "The Age", Saturday 9/8, p.3.

Venue Events
Event Date Name of Venue Address Latitude /
Longitude
Capacity Suburban Purpose Screens
1924-12-23 Athenaeum 188 Collins Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000


997 City Live Theatre 1
1929-02-02



Cinema
1950-01-01



977
1965-01-01



963
1970-04-18



Live Theatre
1970-10-22



975 Cinema

Screenings

Screenings
Films Distributor Dates
Love Contract GAF 1933-11-24 - 1933-11-24
Thark GAF 1933-11-24 - 1933-11-24
Thark GAF 1933-11-25 - 1933-11-25
Love Contract GAF 1933-11-25 - 1933-11-25
Thark GAF 1933-11-26 - 1933-11-26
Love Contract GAF 1933-11-26 - 1933-11-26
Love Contract GAF 1933-11-27 - 1933-11-27
Thark GAF 1933-11-27 - 1933-11-27
Love Contract GAF 1933-11-28 - 1933-11-28
Thark GAF 1933-11-28 - 1933-11-28
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