Silver City Cinema

49 Oxide Street,
Broken Hill, NSW 2880

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Silver City Cinema 49 Oxide Street, Broken Hill, NSW

Silver City Cinema 49 Oxide Street, Broken Hill, NSW

Photo courtesy of Leslie Martin

Broken Hill’s Silver City Cinema to reopen with new owners after decades in the Wren family

ABC Broken Hill / By Youssef Saudie and Andrew Schmidt
Posted Tue 16 Aug 2022 at 6:30amTuesday 16 Aug 2022 at 6:30am

Broken Hill Silver City Cinema officially finished operation with the Wren family but will reopen next month.(ABC News: Jenia Ratcliffe)The Silver City Cinema has officially finished operating as a family business after 40 years in Broken Hill.

Key points:

Broken Hill’s Silver City Cinema aims to reopen on September 15, 2022 Its new owners are excited to continue its legacy. One option suggested to honour the former owners, the Wren family, is naming a street after them John Wren and his family served generations of locals and tourists at the 50s-styled cinema, working through the age of the VHS to the rise of online streaming services.

The family has now handed the baton to the new owners, The Musicians Club.

Mr Wren said he had traded in some “very bleak” times and dealt with the “ups and downs” of Broken Hill as a mining city. “You got your good times and your bad times, a lot of people that come from away, they buy a business in Broken Hill, bad times come and they close up,” he said. “I’ve always had to have in the back of my mind that the cinema will never close up.” Mr Wren said it had been a pleasure to provide entertainment for the community.

He believed the cinema gave him strength when he experienced health issues.

“I’ve never been so privileged in my whole life in doing what I have done, and have never regretted it,” Mr Wren said.

John Wren says he enjoyed providing entertainment for the community.(ABC News: Jenia Ratcliffe. From screening blockbuster films to working with community groups, he described it as a “very fulfilling” experience. “[I remember] our first big movie was Star Wars and some people just lined up, block after block,” he said. “We could work with the Red Cross, the schools, numerous organisations, everybody benefited.”

Full circle

Broken Hill Musicians Club general manager Michael Boland, who is also a councillor, said his love for the cinema started when he worked there in his first casual job. A building that says ‘The Musicians Club’ which includes musical notes. “I was about 15 years of age and knocked on the front door of the cinema and asked John to do work experience,” he said. “He ended up offering me a job. I stayed there for many, many years and have a lot of great memories. "Everybody at high school was certainly jealous of me seeing all the movies as they came out.”

Big plans

Mr Boland said it felt “surreal” to have bought the cinema and to be able to continue the Wren family’s legacy. “I am speechless, it’s not in your wildest dreams you’d think you would walk back in and buy the business,” Mr Boland said. “It’s something that you don’t expect to ever happen in your life.” Michael Boland worked at the cinema as a teenager.(ABC Broken Hill: Youssef Saudie) Mr Boland now aims to make it the “best example” of an art deco picture theatre, not just in Australia but in the world. He has goals to do various refurbishments, like improving the lighting, as well as potentially re-introducing a drive-in cinema. “I certainly think it would be something that could be done again on a weekend basis and it would really work with some good, old school, classic movies,” Mr Boland said.

Community acknowledges work

Some Broken Hill community members have called for a way to recognise the decades of work from the Wren family. Mr Boland said one idea was naming a potential new street or lane after the family, as the council looked at building on extra land.

The Silver City Cinema has helped entertain generations of people in Broken Hill.(ABC Broken Hill: Jonathon Poulson) “I think it’d be fitting if that came about and there was a new street in a new area of Broken Hill, like Wren Street or Wren Drive,” he said. “It’s early days but there’s lots of ideas. I think John’s commitment to the community will never be forgotten.”

John Wren wanted to thank people in Broken Hill for their support throughout the decades. “There’s nothing more special than Boland looking after the place that will stay open for the rest of his life,” he said.

“I feel very, very pleased knowing that the cinema is going to survive in Broken Hill.”

The Musicians Club aims to reopen the cinema on September 15, 2022.

Contributed by Greg Lynch -

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