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Regent Cafe

Remember the days of Saturday matinees and rolling jaffas? Part of the joy of the movies is the otherness of being in a cinema. For years, picture theatres have been like a big community lounge – where kids romp, couples court and friends meet up.

Most of us have a databank of movie memories. I can remember the first movie I saw at the cinema (The Towering Inferno) – and the movie that was playing at the Gore picture theatre in the floods of 1978 (Can’t stop the music … or was it Thank God it’s Friday? Either way it was disco).

We’ve brought together some photos of Christchurch movie theatres from our collection. George Arliss was appearing in The Millionaire at The Plaza in 1932.

Papers Past, the essential resource of digitised New Zealand newspapers, has lots of great information on movies and picture theatres. How about what was on at The Colosseum in 1908:

The new programme of pictures presented at the Colosseum last night by the Royal Pictures Company comprises a large variety of interesting and amusing films, and the large building was again packed in all parts. The films shown covered a diversity of subjects, and included some of the best motion pictures yet shown in Christchurch. “The Enchanted Guitar”,” The Pumpkin Race”,” Timid Lovers”, “Baffled Boobies” and the other humorous pictures raised unbounded merriment, while such films as “Rodents and their ways”, and “Dumb Sagacity”, afforded valuable object lessons on the matters with which they dealt.

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Plaza Theatre

If you want to go further down the rabbit hole, the Canterbury Film Society has excellent information on the history of Christchurch cinemas. It includes a chronological list of cinemaswith photos.

Digital NZ has a set of images related to Going to the movies (there are some rather lovely shots of a Wellington audience watching Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights).

An earlier blog post here The ghosts of cinemas past has lots of Christchurch movie theatre memories in the comments. The Tivoli, The Barclay, Cinerama …