Hindley St cyclorama and rink becomes Adelaide's first picture theatre, West's, in 1908

Some of the art deco style of West's cinema in Hindley Street remains in its new role as Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's Grainger Studio.
 

Adelaide's first permanent cinema was in Hindley Street on the site of the cyclorama and the Olympia skating rink. Cinema chain owner T. J. West bought the site and revamped it as West’s Picture Theatre. It opened in December 1908.

In 1939, West decided to knock down the theatre and build a modern one in its place. (The theatre is now the home of Adelaide Symphony Orchestra as the Grainger Studio  – named after Percy Grainger.)

By 1912, several silent movie picture theatres were built, mainly around Hindley Street.

The Empire Theatre opened alongside the newly-built 1901 Central Market in Grote Street.

The style of picture theatre buildings was influenced by the American cinema industry. They were often ornate and the most flamboyant building in the streetscape.

Two former cinema buildings survive as substantial shops along Rundle Mall.

One is the five-storey Lotteries Commission building at 23-25 Rundle Mall which was a former Grand Picture Theatre built for sole proprietor Alfred Drake. He held a grand opening in November 1916 for the city’s mayor and other dignitaries before it was premiered to the public the next day with The Fool's Revenge.

It closed in 1976, having also been known at different times as the Mayfair and Sturt cinemas.

 

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

Resin studio in Adelaide proves small is beautiful with world-class film VFX and animation

Adelaide’s Resin boutique studio was the primary visual effects (VFX) seller for the Storm Boy 2019 film remake, creating a digital double of the famous pelican Mr Percival, along with ocean and storm VFX. It did all of the visual effects shots and titles for Kriv Stender’s Red Dog, and has contributed to other films such as Electric Dreams, Where the Wild Things Are, Rogue, Forbidden Lies and Netflix series Tideland. A core expertise in visual effects, character and creature animation allows its boutique size to expand to meet the world-class needs of feature films. The core is built around a foundation of design, technical knowhow and over a decade’s experience across on-set effects. It enables Resin to cross all facets of visual effects, character and creature animation including pioneering work in augmented reality where Resin it won best new app in the national awards. Resin, started in 2004 by Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan in commercial work, has collaborated with the world's leading agencies and production companies for brands including Disney XD, Electronic Arts, Lennox, Mitsubishi, Bridgestone, Michellin, Yalumba, Jacob's Creek, News Ltd and SA Tourism. Resin expanded with studios in Melbourne and Brisbane in 2018. But it is keeping its headquarters in Adelaide where revolutionary high-speed internet, courses in VFX and post production at universities and private institutions, and a growing reputation for world class VFX work help it compete internationally. South Australian Film Corporation’s uncapped 10% post-production rebate from 2017  has been another boon.

Southern Cross film 'The Woman Suffers' (1918) , made in Adelaide, a feminist melodrama

Made in Adelaide and the first major production financed by South Australia’s Southern Cross Feature Film Company, The Woman Suffers (1918) was an important and controversial film in its time, and remains one of the most significant Australian silent features. Directed by Raymond Longford, it starred his partner Lottie Lyell and has been called Australia’s first feminist feature film. The film is a full-scale melodrama of town and country, with sumptuous settings and high fashions, entwined with a highly moral story on a familiar theme: ruination of a woman by a man. The film, in eight acts, includes many outrages – from the drunken wife-beater husband through to two young men who seduce and abandon women, causing one to suicide and the other to attempt an abortion. All the women in the film are sympathetically depicted. The Woman Suffers opened in March 1918 at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide, to good box office results and rave reviews. It opened in Sydney in August to good houses and ran for seven weeks but this came to an abrupt halt in October when the New South Wales chief secretary banned further screenings, without giving reasons. The Woman Suffers was popular in other states. Its success allowed Longford and Lyell to begin work on their next film, The Sentimental Bloke (1919), also for the Southern Cross Feature Film Company and based on the book by South Australian-born author C.J. Dennis. The Sentimental Bloke has been described as the crowning achievement of Longford and Lyell’s careers, and of all Australian silent films. 

Aboriginal filmmakers supported by South Australian corporation strategy 2015-20

The South Australian Film Corporation’s first Aboriginal Screen Strategy (2015-20) supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers. The strategy was designed to grow and support the stories and creative voices of the Aboriginal screen sector and to develop skills and knowledge in filmmaking through production, mentoring and partnerships. The corporation set up Pirrku Kuu (The Story Room) at Adelaide Studios in Glenside as a hub for Aboriginal filmmakers’ work. The strategy was guided by corporation’s Lee-Ann Buckskin and then-chief executive Annabelle Sheehan. The film corporation’s Aboriginal advisory committee members for the strategy were • Erica Glynn (Arrente), director of TV’s Black Comedy, graduate of Australian Film Television and Radio School, whose short film My Bed, Your Bed was an international success and her documentaries include A Walk with Words with Romaine Morton and Ngangkari about traditional healers of the Central Desert region. • Major Sumner, an honoured Ngarrindjeri elder from the Coorong and Lower Lakes in South Australia. • Derik Lynch (Yankunytjatjara), who grew up in small town camp in Alice Springs. starred alongside of Trevor Jamieson in the theatre play Namatjira that toured England and Rotterdam; screen credits include Black Comedy and Deadline Gallipoli. • Natasha Wanganeen (Narungga), with film credits including Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), Black and White (2002), Australian Rules (2002) and, on television, Redfern Now (2013) and ABC’s The Secret River 2013).

 

Tivoli Gardens at Oval plus Austral, Chinese gardens, Canvas among summer theatre spaces

The Tivoli Gardens at Adelaide Oval in 1914-15 were one of Adelaide’s most novel theatrical ventures. The open-air theatre was used by performers during summer shutdowns of the new Tivoli Theatre on Grote Street, Adelaide. It enjoyed sold-out nights before World War I brought on a decline and in 1915 the military took over Adelaide Oval, including the Tivoli Gardens and the cricket grounds. Austral Gardens was an open-air theatre between 1914 and 1931 behind Ayers House on North Terrace, Adelaide, but used most extensively used for boxing, horse racing and dances.The other open-air operation was the Chinese Gardens in 1934-1937 behind the Exhibition Building on on North Terrace. Another open-air operation was the Chinese Gardens in 1934-1937 behind the Exhibition Building on North Terrace. The theatre was managed with the Theatre Royal and run by SA Theatres Ltd. Chinese Gardens was the only known open-air theatre in Australia to have a full-sized organ. The Canvas Theatre on Flinders Street, Adelaide, operated between 1939-40 presenting variety enterainment from groups such as Coleman’s Follies, Coles Variety group and Frisco Follies. In North Adelaide, The Studio Theatre opened in 1940 and closed in 1961. It was used as a training space and was one of Adelaide’s first locations for composing original music and choreographing original dances (mostly ballets).

South Australian Film Corporation's Lottie Lyell Award 100 years after 'Woman Suffers'

The South Australian Film Corporation launched an award in 2018 to commemorate Lottie Lyell’s trail-blazing impact on the Australia screen industry and to give significant financial support to a female-driven screen project. The annual $20,000 Lottie Lyell Award will be for a female film practitioner, based in South Australia, to develop or deliver a work – feature film, TV series, documentary, script or game – that’s bold, ambitious and full of promise. The award marked a century since Lottie Lyell starred in Australia’s first feminist film The Woman Suffers, also the first feature made by Southern Cross Feature Film Co, the first production company founded in South Australia. Screen pioneer Lyell was a writer, producer, director, editor and art director, and an accomplished horsewoman who did all her own stunts. Together with her partner in work and life Ray Longford, she made 28 films. They had been working together since 1909 as actors in a touring theatre company. Longford directed her in the film of The Fatal Wedding in 1911. Their second film, The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole, established her as Australia’s first female film star. Lyell became Longford’s partner in the making of their films and in their private life. The Woman Suffers, filmed in Adelaide when Lyell was 27, was their 13th film together since 1911. The next year they made The Sentimental Bloke, the most successful Australian film of its day. She appeared in all of Longford’s films as director up until On Our Selection, made in 1920 ( he is credited as co-writer). Lyell died of tuberculosis in 1925, aged 35. 

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback