Regent Theatre

101-107 Rundle Mall,
Adelaide, SA 5000

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Bob9000 on May 12, 2019 at 10:33 am

Yes it is a sad loss to Adelaide. But stand alone cinemas find it very difficult to survive these days. I do feel however that the post 1967 reduced Regent might have been kept as a Central City concert hall, with occasional movie screenings for example, film festivals. This would have required a government supported lease. I agree that Adelaide has a poor track record of holding on to it’s heritage. The example of the vandalism in the destruction of the wonderful Adelaide University Union Hall comes to mind.

bming on March 30, 2018 at 8:22 am

The destruction of the Regent is an absolute disgrace. As someone who has a memories of regular cinema attendance in Brisbane and Sydney sin 1960 (when I saw Cinerama Holiday in Cinerama at the Sydney Plaza) many cinemas were not the crash hot – small screens bad design (I certainly would not put the Plaza in that category – that cinema was stunning) . Clearly the Regent was a treasure but it seems that South Australia considered it too modern. Funny since it was also designed for live performances we destroy it and yet we have a shortage of live venue space in the city (Her Majesties will be out of action for a long time) .Would be great if the Regent could be resurrected especially with big film format films such as Dunkirk, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile being released.

AutopsyOfAdelaide on May 28, 2015 at 9:54 am

Please see my recent photographs of the interior of Regent Cinema 1, 2 and 3.

mals on May 29, 2013 at 11:55 am

I totally agree with PreserveHistory12……….

I have such a good memory with some of Adelaide’s wonderful Cinemas or Theatres as they were known. I can remember queuing along with the rest of the eager teenagers back in 64' to see ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ & looking around at how Grand it looked with that huge looking Eagle looking down on everyone…………. Does anyone remember the ‘Fresco’ on the Ceiling…absolutely beautiful! I get annoyed when i think how our wonderful Theatres have been destroyed to make way for so called progress….around the world….UK London eg. USA etc have kept some of their wonderful Treasures [ Theatres]for all to see for future generations…….. Shame on Adelaide……just a mass of glass, sterile looking & boring…. My dau. came back from UK & said London was great & saw some wonderful Theatres that hadn’t changed & she said now i know what you were talking about in regards to Adelaide’s old Theatres………………………..

PreserveHistory12 on December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

i dont understand why adelaide city council gets it soo wrong all the time when so often they can get it so right….. Example – North Terrace, amazing with the bench seats, box hedges, grass etc or another example Adelaide Arcade, just Amazingly preserved.

However….then look at Regent Arcade they have approved for a horrible globalize music pounding store to move in upstairs rather than keep the amazing cinema that was previously there, it could have been incredibly restored and sold to Wallis for instance. If you haven’t already seen it, well the latest in Regent arcade, they removed the beautiful painted ceiling at the end of the arcade as well as the large lead light glass spelling out Regent Arcade and some of the bay window shopping outfits. In its place floor to floor glass. Lovely, now the arcade has floor to floor glass on the entrance from grenfell street, half dwn the arcade are the old beautiful bay window fronts, you reach the end of the arcade and greeted with cheap and nasty glass windows with a rust looking light fixture at the tops of the doorways and booming music from the globalize store has consumed the old theatre space (not to mention the graffiti art they have allowed on the change room doors) how offensive to the history of the place. You would imagine that it would be heritage listed and protected – afraid not its now a ruin of another sort.

How disappointing that melbourne and sydney seem to recognise the importance of the old and new they pull off the restorations so well however, adelaide appear to fail every time. Regent arcade could have been high class shopping boutiques now its trash the shops dont even complement themselves.

THE END, (PS. Please feel free to comment love to hear others opinions). And just to clarify im not dissing contemporary shopping fitouts, rather suggesting a more tasteful, considered approach would be much more successful for both the owner and consumer. Look at Royal Aracde Melbourne or Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.

npalmer on July 27, 2006 at 8:18 am

Good information on the Regent can be found here:
View link

Desmond on December 10, 2005 at 10:34 am

The 70 foot screen with the 15 curve was part of the 1968 install of the D150 equipment. This was primarily for 70mm film presentation.
The Cinemascope screen was quite somewhat smaller. Under the guidlines in vogue at the time the idea was to make 70mm look as large as possible while keeping the presentaion of 35mm including of course, CinemaScope, to the then accepted sizes for best resolution.
This was based on the old SMPTE or AMPAS specifacation of the 35mm being no wider than 25 feet. CinemaScope was a way of increasing the picture width beyond that limit. The height was maintained by selection of the prime lens. The audience was then suitably impressed as the 70mm was both higher and wider.
In the original Regent as pictured here (see above) the proscenium arch was designed to frame the Academy ratio of 1.33:1. The arch was destroyed in the 1968 refit. The idea was for CinemaScope to be a poor man’s Cinerama which had the very deep curve. As you can see the curved screen would not have fitted into the space behind the proscenium and maintained its omnipotent visual power. Also most cinema owners could not afford or justify the cost of expanding their screens to a large curve, even if they could fit them in to the space with the result that most CinemaScope screens were flat or with a slight curve. (Many disasters occurred in fitting CinemaScope screens incorrectly.)
I no longer have the figures for the original screen size but if you look at picture above and superimpose a rectangle(2.35:1 that fits inside the arch you have a fair idea if the cinemaScope piture size. I doubt if it was more than forty feet or so.
Your reference to “depth of curve” was to correct for the projection lens distance to the screen so that the picture would maintain focus across the curve of the screen.
The deep curves of Cinemarama or D150 type screens were solely to envelop the audience in the action and were much deeper than these “lens curves”. Again the Widescreen Museum site has incredible detail contained in its pages on these matters.
As for the Regent, only the best was near good enough and no expense was spared to maintain it.
Knight Barnett use to do an organ radio broadcast “from the stage of the Regent Theatre Adelaide” for the ABC till around 1964 I think. If I remember correctly a recording was issued by the ABC.
You may also be interested in seeing the theatre organ at the Capri Theatre. Details at their website: The Capri also shows films in the grand old style. They have a theatre organ CD available. (No, I do not have any affiliation with the Capri except as a cinema patron.)
The Regent was also used for live performance from time to time and during the 1962 Adelaide Festival of Arts. It was after all a fully equipped live theatre in its day.
I hope this helps with your questions.

Sticks on December 10, 2005 at 5:46 am

Thanks again Des, yes sorry for not stating the B & L name in my statement of “the last”.

The web site noted above is indeed full of the most interesting information.

I notice the handbook on Cinemascope indicates it was desirable to curve the screen based on the projection throw and required width. Height and “depth of curve” results. Shorter the throw the deeper the curve I guess for a given width. It is interesting to look up figures that result in the 70 foot wide 15 foot screen depth mentioned in your rebuild posting for the 1968 screen.

Thanks again, cheers!

Desmond on December 8, 2005 at 11:49 am

Cinemascope, I am not certain what you mean by “last 20th Century Fox CinemaScope film” as I have screened many CinemaScope films from 20th Century Fox upto and including this month. Perhaps you are referring to the original Bosch and Lomb lenses which have been replaced by the superior Panavision lenses. In any case the name CinemaScope is still held by 20th Century Fox and they are certainly releasing films in 2.35 anamorphic as are most of the other studios. I am glad you have found the Widescreen Museum as it is one the best sights on the web. It has a mountain of information on all of the wide screen processes. The mini DV is certainly offering all of us the opportunity to be film-makers. Hope to screen your movie one day.

Sticks on December 7, 2005 at 10:40 pm

Further to the above, after doing some searching on Cinemascope the following web site is worth a visit I think:

View link

Did we ever see Caprice in Adelaide? It was the last 20th Century Fox Cinemascope film made it seems.

PS: I have always been interested in “Cinemascope” having shot my first film in 1967 using a 1.75 squeeze anamorphic lens on a 8mm camera (dreadfull image). I have for about 4 years been shooting 16:9 and 2.35 anamorphic on a mini DV camera and have made my own DVD’s of my travels etc since early 2000. There is no bigger challenge at consumer level than this stuff.

Sticks on December 7, 2005 at 9:41 pm

Thanks Des for that information.

(I am so glad you answered as just this morning I “lost” my computer and thus the link I had put into favourites and have just re loaded from a previous ghost to find your reply. Then of course I have had trouble logging back in to post this reply).

I wonder if I could ask what was the screen size of the old cinemascope screen before the 1968 rebuild? If I read the above info correctly the 1968 screen was 70 feet with a 15 ft curve.

I also just this week managed to locate a 33 record of Knight Barnett at the Wurlitzer Organ (Showtime Evergreens). I guess it was recorded at St Peters. I notice from the text on the cover – Knight fondly calls the organ “The Daddy of them all”.

All interesting stuff to ponder. Thanks Des

Desmond on December 7, 2005 at 1:51 pm

Dear cinemascope,
When CinemaScope was installed in the Regent, the Theatre was leased directly to Hoyt’s theatres. Hoyts at that time was owned by 20th Century Fox. From this information you can be reasonable sure that any 20th Century Fox Cinemacope films were screened at the Regent under the screening policies in force at that time. The only other outlet for 20th Century Fox movies was at the Plaza behind the Regent. This does not mean that other cinemas did not gain access to cinemascope pictures but the majority of the ‘Fox CinemaScope pictures would certainly have been initially screened at The Regent. Two I remember were; “Boy on A Dolphin” and of course the sequel to The Robe, “Demetrius And The Gladiators.” You may find (via Google) a listing on the net of 'Fox CinemaScope films from various sites on the net. This may help trigger your memory. You could also consult the local Adelaide Advertiser newspaper archive and look up the amusement pages of those early years. The theatre is still dormant?

Sticks on December 7, 2005 at 7:35 am

I was one of the patrons of the old Regent and often went to films on Saturday Nights in the 50’s and 60’s. I wonder if Rex has a list of the films that followed The Robe on the big screen from the 1953 opening? The memory is fading.

A wonderful climb up the marble staircase to the lovely lady at the top and then Knight Barnett the best.

Desmond on May 21, 2005 at 4:03 pm

Rex, Please see my note above on the history of the Adelaide Regent.
I am sad to report that things have just got worse for this theatre.
The College that owned the building has sold it (for about $A22 million.
The new owners have been reported as saying they intend to adapt the auditorium spaces to accommodate offices or similar. No one seems to be disturbed about this loss. The mind boggles.
I have been trying to find a colour photo of the original theatre.
Also to Babs and Dylan above I have an original opening night program (copy)(dated: June 29th 1928)and there is no mention of an organ or organist for the opening night. The Program does however, acknowledge the “First appearance of the Regent Symphony Orchestra of 16 players under the direction of W. R. Cade.” Hope this is of interest. I will keep you posted as to the date of the final demolition.
I feel like a very close relative has gone into a coma .

mrt1924 on April 11, 2005 at 1:01 am

What a stunning photo, does this theatre still look like that today?

DylanWalker on February 25, 2004 at 1:53 am

I believe an English organist, Leon Foulon, played at the opening night of the Adelaide Regent. As mentioned above, the Mighty Wurlitzer was not installed by the opening night. Leon Foulon played on a Mustel organ which was brought across from Melbourne.

Babs on February 14, 2004 at 4:31 pm

What a stunning building, it would be great to have a colour photo to show off it’s true beauty.

Would anyone know who the Oranist was at the opening of the Regent?
My uncle, Roy Devaney, was commissioned in the USA by MGM to play the Wurlitzer at the grand opening of the Regent in Perth. Roy also played the Wurlitzer at the Sydney Regent and the De Luxe in Melbourne. Any information is appreciated.

Desmond on January 31, 2004 at 3:38 am

As the last licenced Chief projectionist before the licences were made unnecessary (1994),(thats another story), I can tell you that several degradations were committed to the Hoyts'Regent long before the present time. The original Regent had pale cream walls with rich brown and gold trim, contrasting with the rich red of the main “act-drop” verical curtain. Behind this was a set of side-travelling tab white silk curtains. This all went in the 1968 demolition. The new (upper) level Regent had dark blue walls with no highlights and a shot green main curtain. All the stage facilities were lost.
The new 70 foot screen had a 15 foot deep curve and was intended for D-150 70mm projection. It remained like this till it was refurbished in the late 1980s by newer owners. When 20th Century Fox sold its interest in the Hoyts Theatres chain a progression of new owners made a number of alterations. The curve screen was replaced with a nearly flat screen with a 3 foot curve. The walls were painted a dark plum purple colour and the cutain replaced with a white/shot grey one. Some highlights to the once the gold leaf friezes were paint reindeer nose pink. The seats were left pale blue. The new owners also replaced the sound system with an inadequate Dolby cp200 with later additions for digital sound. The unqualified staff were taught to lace the film and set a timer and then go and sell the tickets and popcorn at the candybar. “Focus? You can focus it?"
If all this is not bad enough behind the Regent, also from 1968 was the 700 seat Paris also called the Plaza which (I believe) was the only purpose built single-lens cinerama D-150 70mm screen in Australia. The Regent screen was single piece while the Paris was the multiple strip screen, wall to wall, cieling to floor cinerama design.
The Paris was converted to two screens around the early 1980s by placing a wall (easily removed) down the middle. The seats were left on the curve). All in all the whole remains are less than satisfactory to put it politely. There are many horror stories of misuse of theses theatres. Suffice it to say it would be better to let the grand old place rest in peace. What is probably worse is the lack of exploration and innovation in "modern” cinema presentation.

PAULB on January 29, 2004 at 9:24 am

Jarrad might like to suggest that to GUO or Wallis instead himself..but really in this day and age it is individual entrepreneurial skills that will see the Regent have a new lease on life. The bigger cinema chains today are not interested in classic cinemas, they are only geared for multiplex operations. Perhaps the city council or an Adelaide arts organisation with a sponsor might step forward. Or a person like Jarrad who wants to marshal support.

jazz on January 29, 2004 at 8:11 am

I think the Regent Theater should be run by another cinema chain such as Greater Union or Wallis should run in the theater. The theater is in a prime position and with good advertising attendance numbers can be improved to ensure that the theater stays open.

PAULB on January 23, 2004 at 1:21 pm

Dear neo….The Adelaide Regent is there but reduced to the top half of the auditorium only…. it is tripled and halved horizontally. it needs restoration and care and sympathetic treatment………..on the other hand MICHAEL and the inane comments posted on dozens of sites need unsymaptheitc treatment…how do we stop this idiot? PLEASE someone one tell me how…even ‘his page’ is blank. PAIN.

sdoerr on November 29, 2003 at 12:28 am

WOW! Magnificent and lively stage view! Is that what it still looks like today? ANyone have any links to any pictures?