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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Dreamaxx seating in stadium configuration, digital surround sound, giant screens and eye-pleasing interiors are the basic features of the new Hoyts complex at Fox Studios; then it just gets even classier, in La Premiere - the first class end of the cinemas, or next door at the arthouse complex, Cinema Paris. ANDREW L. URBAN gets a guided preview with Hoyts' Chief Operating Officer, Roger Eaton.

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 world"

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 lovers.

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.

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Classy cinema in action

La Premiere - probably the best movie deal in the world

Showcasing Australia's cinematic history

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