Roger Eaton's enthusiasm is genuine and infectious, as he takes us through the cinemas,
showing off its many splendid features. And he has good reason to be proud. Louise Keller
and I sit in one of the spacious and comfortable 'love seats' in La Premiere section at
the back of Cinema 1 enjoying a glass of wine and a platter of finger foods, the cinema
goes through its audio visual paces with a selection of trailers - like End of Days and
The World is Not Enough - to showcase its technical heart and soul to the utmost. Sound
and image pass muster.
"La Premiere - probably the best movie deal in the
La Premiere, with an opening offer of $15 a ticket, is probably the best movie deal in
the world right now - November 1999. (It is expected to rise to $20 after the launch
period.) You book your seat (Sydney 9331 7055) and when you get to the cinema, you walk
straight in to La Premiere lounge, enjoying complimentary snacks and soft drinks, and
availing yourself of alcoholic beverages from simple beers, wines and champagnes to
vintage stuff at $300 a bottle. And you can take it into the cinema, where the 'love
seats' have a special bottle storage container and individual plate tables. They're called
love seats because the amply padded centre armrest can be folded out of the way for a more
intimate seating arrangement. And each seat is wide enough to accommodate the biggest
Of the 12 cinemas at Hoyts at Fox, 5 include La Premiere sections; to identify which
movies are available in La Premiere seating, look for the asterisk next to session times
in newspaper directory ads.
To get to your seats at La Premiere, you walk through the rear of the projection booth,
designed to involve the audience in the cinema going experience more fully.
The foyer of the main complex (12 screens) is a marvellous blend of old and new styles;
the old, reminiscent of the 30s, brings a sense of history and depth, matching with new
surfaces and colours.
Parking - unlike at most central cinema venues - is easy and cheap. The parking station
is situated immediately behind the cinemas and takes over 2,000 cars. The first 2 hours
are free, the next hour is $3.50.
Up at the top of this main complex, you'll find the exclusive Director's Suite, seating
40 or so in luxury, with full catering facilities. It is geared to the corporate market,
but if you've got $1,500, you will not be refused.
Around the corner from the main complex, Hoyts has opened its art house cinema with four
screens, Cinema Paris, a fully licenced movie house on Bent Street inside the Fox lot.
Business Class seating with bottle holders and extra leg room plus superb audio-visual
presentation complements its selective programming. It opens on November 17, 1999, with a
live orchestra accompanying The Kid Stakes (see below), showcasing the auditorium
specially created to screen silent movies, with a sunken orchestra pit.
Eaton gets really excited about this cinema because of the unique arrangement between
Hoyts and ScreenSound (ex National Film and Sound Archives).
Eaton says it is a world first, this agreement to showcase Australia's cinematic
history in a commercial cinema on an ongoing basis. A monthly program of archived films
will be presented (probably two sessions a month, depending on demand), supplemented with
5 minute 'gems' from shorts and other films on a daily basis.
In November, the program kicks off with the 1927 classic, The Kid Stakes (pic), directed by
Tal Ordell from the comic strip created by Syd Nicholls. In December, the film is Raymond
Longford's 1919 celebrated romantic comedy, The Sentimental Bloke (right), followed in January by
a contemporary drama, Caddie (1976) with Helen Morse in the title role.
Others in the program include Ken Hall's Smithy (left, 1946), the Chauvels' Jedda (1955) and
Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940), with its spectacular re-enactment of the charge of the
Light Horse in Beersheba (but filmed at Sydney's Cronulla). The film marks the acting
debut of Michael Pate (right), who was one of the VIP guests at the opening of the Fox Backlot
last Sunday (November 7, 1999).
But there is also the contemporary arthouse programming at Cinema Paris, which sits
amidst the retail/café precinct of Bent Street.