We are living through a period of great uncertainty with the COVID-19 virus disrupting all our lives. There has already been much discussion about what it might mean for cinemas and film-goers. As at Monday March 23, New Zealand cinemas remain open and I remain optimistic that we will return to some state of normality. But who knows when.
I feel a peronal loss as I will have to suspend my cinema-going until it becomes once more possible. This is after suspending,as President of the Hamilton Film Society, future weekly screenings for our members. But it does mean that I will have more time to bring this site up-to-date.
There are numerous opportunities to sustain an interest in film culture. One such great opportunity is provided by the Rialto Channel in New Zealand (Sky39), who are screening the Mark Cousin's series Women Make Film as well as Agnes on Varda through April 2020.
Links here: https://www.rialtochannel.co.nz/Reel-Women-Leading-Female-Directors Screens on Friday April 3 @ 8.30pm
First episode screens Wednesday April 1 @ 8.30pm
In early December 2019, I took a trip around the South Island to visit or re-visit cinemas, beginning in Christchurch and returning there eight days later, after visiting 28 independent cinemas (Rangiora, Kaikoura, Nelson, Westport ....). It was an intense but satisfying trip, especially where I was able to visit places where I had not been before, or where I had not been able to see cinema interiors. One such cinema was the Entertainment Centre in Roxburgh/Roxburgh Entertainment Centre.
I have added details for their listing in the Cinema Directory/Otago but also I want to make known a potentially very important aspect of the main auditorium there. The folk who run the Entertainment Centre on behalf of the community are gathering evidence and are seeking confirmation for the claim that this cinema space is the longest-continuously-running cinema space in the world, providing film since its first screening in 1897.
If their claim is successful, then will be cause for celebration and subsequent national recognition of this historical site. Watch this spot.
The November 2016 Kaikoura magnitude 7.8 earthquake largely destroyed the lovely old Mayfair cinema on the foreshore, leaving little more than the art deco-styled pink and black facade salvageable. In the ensuing months, the community of Kaikoura has been fund-raising (donations, film screenings in other venues, art auctions etc) to have the Mayfair rise again. One particular local (John Wyatt) has been the driving force behind this.You can find more information about their fundraising on their Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/mayfairkaikoura/
When I visited on December 9, 2019 the timber framing for the external walls was being raised. The plan for the new Mayfair includes two cinema screens and a large auditorium for live events. It will provide a important cultural centre for the lively town of Kaikoura, and a replacement balcony will ensure it will be once again a cinema which has one of the finest views of mountains and ocean in the world.
There is a proposed opening date of 9 November 2020. I hope to be there.
Auckland Live (www.aucklandlive.co.nz) has announced an extensive programme of outdoor film screenings in Aotea Square for the summer months of December/January/February. There are screenings on Thursday and Sunday; to include popular feature films (starting Hunt for the Wilderpeople), short film programmes, and recent documentaries.
Update: On my recent South Island I encountered more outdoor summer screenings: in Nelson, Christchurch and Lincoln. Pictures below from planned screenings in Christchurch and a screening underway, next to the Apollo Cinema in Lincoln.
There will be outdoor, evening screenings of Casablanca, Stop Making Sense and The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of the Hamilton Gardens Festival, Feb 26-28.
I am putting together plans to visit as many South Island cinemas as possible, beginning in Christchurch and following a circuitous route, in early December. There are places I haven't been back to for a year or two, and some new places.
As I no longer have any university support to help my endeavours, such opportunities to travel are infrequent and need to make the most efficient use of time--so, I plan to visit more than 20 cinemas in eight days.
A further update (December 20): an organised trip around the South Island, which entailed much driving (and detours, due to road closures), resulted in visits to 28 cinemas in 8 days . There were places we did not get to (Akaroa, Takaka, Te Anau, Dunedin) but we pretty much covered the South. Updates of cinema listings will begin shortly.
I was particularly pleased to get to see several cinemas I had been unable to get to until now--such as Roxburgh and Gore.
Tivoli Cinema, Cambridge
Along with the Lido cinema in central Hamilton, the Tivoli in the pretty Waikato town of Cambridge is a favourite film-going venue. Stylishly developed and opened in 2014, in a refurbished building on the northern outskirts of town (between a large Bunnings and a very popular Good George bar/restaurant), it is a lovely three-screen cinema. Owners Shane and Karen know their films and their programming is often more adventurous that some other independents. It is not on the NZIFF circuit but festival films often turn up there and the Italian Film Festival was scheduled there in 2019
A reliable clue that will tell you that the film selection and screening quality (as well as the ambience) will be top-notch are the film books scattered around the lounge area.
Karen and Shane opened a companion Tivoli in Papamoa (close to Tauranga) late last year, which serves a slightly different audience. It is a little too far for me to venture, but the Tivoli Cambridge is just a 15 minute south down SH1 (where you can experience the thrill of a 110kph speed limit) for me. Since the highway bypassed the town, Cambridge has become even more of an appealing destination, with bookshops, antique stores, good cafes, and ready access to cycle trails.
A recent article from Stuff (1/10/19) featuring the Tivoli in Cambridge, the Starlight Cinema in Taupo and the Tokoroa 3D Cinemas www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/116228982/small-town-cinemas-here-to-stay?cid+app-iPad It should have included The Regent in Te Awamutu.
An interesting history of cinema refreshments/concessions/popcorn in North American cinemas:
Nik Dirga features the Academy and Hollywood cinemas and other Auckland art house cinemas, in an article "Cinema Paradiso" in the Canvas magazine.
Geoff Lealand was an Assoc Prof in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato from 1992 to 2017. Now retired (not a word he favours), he writes social history, maintains this site, its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as going to the cinema at least twice weekly.