Last attempt to save the Glenelg Cinema

by Natalie Bittner.

We offer you the public of South Australia a centre of entertainment unique in this state. Every luxury, every thought, every care that 27 years of experience dictates, that modern science knows, is here for your comfort, your convenience, your service. We present the showplace of Australia, the Ozone Theatre Glenelg

(From the program distributed at the Gala opening night of the Ozone Theatre, Glenelg November 5th 1937)

Glenelg Cinema. Corner Jetty Road and Rose Street. Photo: Natalie Bittner. 26/05/2011

In the next few weeks, the fate of the Glenelg Cinema complex will be decided. The cinema has been closed since the end of January 2009 with no development on the site and a drop in visitor numbers to the Eastern end of the Jetty Road precinct noticed by nearby traders. In the week following its closure, the Wallis cinema company put up most of the interior fixtures for sale, including the seats and doors.

Having been designed by architect Kenneth Milne in 1936, the Glenelg Ozone Theatre (as it was then known) consisted of a single cinema screen, and had twin marble grand staircases and tartan carpeting throughout. Known for his impeccable detailing, the façade of the building includes stone from Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills, horizontal fins and the current vertical signage is the same element used in the original construction. Advertising material from 1938 says that the Ozone Theatre had air-conditioning throughout, a ladies smoking lounge, and a baby-friendly viewing area where mothers with screaming children ‘will not be embarrassed’ (The Advertiser Saturday October 9, 1937). On the 5th of November 1937 Glenelg Ozone Theatre’s gala opening night consisted of a technicolour screening of A Star is Born with shorts including How to Vote. (The Mail Saturday November 6th, 1937).

Main Entrance Plaques. Photo: Natalie Bittner. 26/05/2011

There are several different options being floated about possible uses for the cinema site. These include a 15 store shopping complex with multi-level carparking, and the Taplin group’s pitch to retain the facade and turn the building into a 7 screen cinema complex. While not ideal for a building with heritage value such as this, at least one plan retains the cultural integrity of the location! Recently there has been a resurgence in popularity of nostalgia nights at cinemas around the state. The Capri theatre at Goodwood, The Windsor at Brighton, even the large Event cinema complex at Marion has been holding nostalgia nights. Screening a popular classic film in a beautiful cinema complex will no doubt attract new custom to a cinema such as the Glenelg Cinema. By combining a classic movie with a short cartoon and a newsreel, small atmospheric cinemas can be revitalised.

If you wish to help protect this unique cinema, please follow the following link and sign the petition to help prevent Glenelg losing any more of its cultural identity:

If you’d like more information, please view the following links:

Local Community trying to protect the cinema:

Lorna Wallis’ dilemma:

News report on the last attempt to save the Glenelg Cinema (Includes footage of the opening night!):

Advertorial from 1937 detailing features of the new cinema complex:

Newspaper article of the gala opening night of Glenelg Cinema:|||category=Article%7Ccategory%3AArticle|||ltitle=The+Mail+%28Adelaide%2C+SA…%7Ctitleid%3A75

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