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Who would have imagined that there was an audience of 20 somethings wanting to see movies from the 80s – in a cinema? Sydney’s Cremorne Orpheum has discovered ‘Retro’ as the yellow gold brick road. Andrew L. Urban reports.

On Sunday, September 8, the Orpheum is celebrating the second anniversary of its I Love Retro Program screening its biggest retro program ever, the Indiana Jones trilogy, remastered in HD ($20 for the three). “It started as a bi-monthly event and has now grown to two events a month,” says Alex Temesvari, the Orpheum’s Deputy General Manager and Retro lover/programmer/champion. 

Indiana Jones Trilogy - Sunday September 8

“Our Retro series has become so popular that we are attracting a new demographic - yet again - who are travelling amazing distances to see classics on our big screen,” adds General Manager Paul Dravet. 

“Many of these are students ... I guess seeing them in a genuine movie palace has some bearing on our success,” says Dravet proudly. “So we are looking at enrolling more and more students into choosing the Orpheum for not just the retro screenings but their regular cinema outings.” That’s why the Orpheum has launched its discount offer to students over 16, ‘$5 after 5 on Mondays’ (except public holidays). 

“What’s extraordinary about the success of the Retros is the wide age groups. Loads of early 20s who want see these ‘oldies’ … 1980s old? … on a big screen - and with an audience. Incredible turn around. When DVD came in no-one was interested ... everyone had their faves in their own libraries and thought ‘why should I pay to see them when we have them at home’. That has definitely changed.” 

The Orpheum encourages patrons to come in appropriately themed costumes - and the winner gets $100 cash.


Most of the events, says Temesvari, “at least half fill our main auditorium, which holds 700. Labyrinth was the biggest success as the first screening sold out and we have now run two encores … soon to be three. The Back To The Future Trilogy, Ghostbusters, Jaws + Jurassic Park, Never Ending Story and Alien + Aliens all sold around 500 seats. 

“The real selling point seems to be for people to relive these movies from their youth, in a lot of cases for the first time on the big screen and to introduce children and friends who haven’t seen them. The added buzz of sharing a film you love, with hundreds of like-minded people seems to also add to the ‘community experience’ of these nights.” 

The main ingredients to making this series work, Temesvari believes, “has been really committing to it and programming it more often which has helped us cement our reputation in this area and also hand picking the right films. Throwing on any old 80’s film simply won’t do, they have to be the modern day classics, the films that you come back to time and time again, regardless of them being in your DVD collection and having seen them dozens of times.” 

The series started quite organically, “after we had a private group booking for Ferris Bueller,” recalls Telesvary. “This got us thinking about what other 80s classics people may want to see back on the big screen. A couple of months later it was a regular event. Our initial objective was to see how many films of the era we could put on and draw large crowds to. I initially thought we only had 12 – 18 months of programming in us and I’m glad I was wrong.” 

Mad Max (and Romper Stomper)

The second anniversary celebrations in September will conclude with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off + Pretty In Pink on Sept 29. “Down the line we also have Never Ending Story (again) + The Princess Bride, Sing-A-Long Grease, Karate Kid + Stand By Me, Mad Max + Romper Stomper.

As for the Christmas Retro, Temesvari has his tongue in his cheek when he says it, but it’s for real: it’ll be billed as ‘The Greatest Christmas Movie Ever’: Die Hard. “Well,” he adds, “it’s set on Christmas Eve …”

Published August 22, 2013

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