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Palais / Plaza / Cinema North / Oriental / Merion, Reservoir

Venue Summary
Name Palais / Plaza / Cinema North / Oriental / Merion, Reservoir
Address 909 High Street, Reservoir, Victoria 3073
Operation Dates 1928-03-01 - 1993-07-01
Capacity 241
Suburban/Country Suburb
Purpose Cinema
Screens 1
1946-01-01 - 1951-01-01 : Exhibitor : Rossiter, L. E. & Emslie, R. E. R
1951-01-01 - 1968-01-01 : Exhibitor : Victoria Theatres Pty Ltd
1968-12-26 - 1993-07-01 : Exhibitor : Cinema North Pty Ltd
Venue Comments

"In March 1928 former auction rooms at Epping Rd. (later High St.) advertised motion pictures for the first time. On either side of the entrance to the Palais were two former shops, one of which housed the projection equipment, the other was used as a ticket box. Pictures were shown twice a week in 1928. A typical programme of the time was 'Code of the West' and 'Headlines' which screened on 28th April, 1928.

By 1933 the depression had taken its toll and the Palais pictures became Palais De Dance. Around this time the building was often referred to as the Public Hall, being used for films, dances and other social events. The Health Department of Victoria closed the Palais on 7 August 1935. On 14 December the same year, the Health Department inspector reported films being screened in a condemned building. Re-opening was approved in June 1936 and seating was reduced from over 500 to 450. It should be noted that the building was of a rudimentary design with unlined tin roof and exterior toilets on either side at the rear of the building.

On 17 July 1943 Mr. A. Harwood took over control from R Mathison and the name was changed from Palais to Plaza. In 1946 alterations to the interior took place which included the addition of seats, taking the total to 540 all on one level. A further 82 seats were added in 1947 and heating in 1948. 1954 after complaints of overcrowding, the Health Dept. limited seating to 499 primarily because there were no inside toilet facilities. By this time with the population of the area growing rapidly, limited seating and a roof that drowned out the sound everytime it rained, it became apparent a new theatre was required.

Consolidated Theatres, who were now in control, erected an entirely new auditorium in stadium style next to the existing Plaza in 1955. The former Plaza was remodelled into a spacious foyer with indoor toilets. Opening on 26 May 1955 the interior design was described as revolutionary, a modern conception combing the ultimate in comfort and motion picture entertainment. The programme consisted of the "Student Prince" in Cinemascope, plus selected featurettes. In addition to its modern single level seating of 892 the theatre consisted of backlit panels along the walls and a plain wide proscenium...

During the late 1950's and 1960's the Plaza withstood the introduction of T.V. and the growth of the Drive-ins, five of which were within 10 mins drive! All five hardtop cinemas in nearby Preston had closed by 1965. By 1968 control had passed through Victoria Theatres to Village Drive-Ins and was now called Cinema North. In 1970 capacity was reduced to 774.

In 1975 stage alterations took place to allow the installation of a Christie organ by the Theatre Organ Society. Regular Sunday concerts were performed by many organists over the years. Around this time the theatre did very well in school holiday periods. Often the manager placed the house-full sign on front of a queue that went a block along High St. Popular films screened at these school holiday times included 'Heidi', 'Hugo The Hippo' and 'Mad Mad Mad Adventures in Russia'. In 1977 average daily attendances were: Monday 72 patrons, Tues 87, Wed 116, Thurs 84, Fri 122, Sat early 71, Sat late 185, no screening on Sunday.

During 1981 another auditorium was added to the rear of the foyer (old cinema). To enable this to occur the male toilets were rebuilt one level underground. The new theatre was named the Oriental and had a capacity of 241. The screen 'floated' with no curtains or masking...

Capacity of the main auditorium at this time was 730 and was now call the Merion. The 1950's style foyer had given way to Mod '70s coplete with mirror walls and bean bags. The snack bar was now walk-through self serve. During this period Mr A Ketly was running what was now advertised under the Village banner and alternatively called Cinema North Centre or Village Reservoir. With 3 of the Drive-Ins in the area closed, Business in the 1980's was steady however things were about to change.

In 1987 Hoyts announced the second Melbourne multiplex was to built at Northland shopping centre, less than ten minutes drive from Cinema North. After the 8-plex opened on December 1987 patronage fell away quickly at Reservoir. By 1990 th Village/Hoyts twin at Greensborough closed and things were tough at Cinema North. Developers acquired the site and the large Merion was demolished and shops constructed on the site.

New management continued to operate the small Oriental with a discount ticket policy. Finally in 1993 this once thriving cinema closed." (Kilderry 1995)

Seating capacity records vary according to the Film Weekly directories:
1946/47 capacity = 480
1948/9 capacity = 489
1950/51 capacity = 499
1956/57 capacity = 897
1971 capacity = 891


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

Film Weekly, Film Weekly: motion picture directory, Film Weekly, Sydney. 1946/7-1969/70: Note in 1968/9 & 1969/70 also listed as Cinema North.

Film screenings advertised in The Herald under the Plaza until 1968. From January 1969 advertised under Cinema North.

Film Weekly (12 December 1968, p. 8.) briefly references the Plaza joining the Kirby (Villiage) empire

Kilderry, D 1995 'Reservoir Palais/Plaza/Cinema North', CinemaRecord, no. 8

Kino ( No. 46 December 1993, p.30) makes reference to closure of Cinema North.

Venue Events
Event Date Name of Venue Address Latitude /
Capacity Suburban Purpose Screens
1928-03-01 Palais Pictures 909 High Street
Victoria 3073
500 Suburb Cinema 1
1933-01-01 Palais De Dance


450 Cinema
1943-07-17 Plaza





1968-12-26 Cinema North






Films Distributor Dates
El Cid Allied Artists
J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors
1963-04-04 - 1963-04-04
Adventurers, The 1970-12-31 - 1970-12-31
Adventurers, The 1971-01-01 - 1971-01-01
Adventurers, The 1971-01-02 - 1971-01-02
Adventurers, The 1971-01-03 - 1971-01-03
Mayerling 1971-01-03 - 1971-01-03
Miss McTaggart Won't Lie Down 1971-01-03 - 1971-01-03
Adventurers, The 1971-01-04 - 1971-01-04
Adventurers, The 1971-01-05 - 1971-01-05
Adventurers, The 1971-01-06 - 1971-01-06
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