Embassy Theatre, Wellington

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The Embassy Theatre
The Embassy in 2005
Former namesDe Luxe Cinema
General information
Location9-11 Kent Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates41°17′39″S 174°47′03″E / 41.294277°S 174.784066°E / -41.294277; 174.784066Coordinates: 41°17′39″S 174°47′03″E / 41.294277°S 174.784066°E / -41.294277; 174.784066
Current tenantsEvent Cinemas
Completed31 October 1924
OwnerWellington City Council
Technical details
Floor count4
Design and construction
ArchitectLlewelyn Williams
Main contractorA W. Williamson of Christchurch
Reference no.7500

The Embassy Theatre is a movie theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, located at the Eastern end of Courtenay Place in the shadow of Mount Victoria.[1] Originally built in 1924,[2] the building has undergone a series of remodels and changes in ownership. It is currently owned by the Wellington City Council[3] and temporarily administered by the Embassy Theatre Trust.[4] Management rights were sold to SKYCITY Cinemas in October 2005,[citation needed] and is now part of AHL owned Event Cinemas.[5] The theatre is recognised as a place of historical/cultural significance by Heritage New Zealand[6] and is the only custom-built 1920s cinema still in use in New Zealand.[3]

Building history[edit]

Designed by Llewelyn Williams, the building opened on October, 31st, 1924, operated by De Luxe Theatres. In 1945, the original name of the theatre ("De Luxe") was changed to "The Embassy".[6] Originally seating 1,749, remodels done during the 1960s - including installation of a 70 mm screen, proscenium, and false ceilings reduced seating to 852.[7] Further remodels were undertaken in the early 2000s in advance of the world premiere screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The remodel was underwritten by a $4.5 million (NZD) grant provided by the Wellington City Council. Part of the condition of providing this funding was that ownership of the building be given to the Council. In addition to strengthening the building against the city's many earthquakes, renovations also included an update to the interior to bring it more in keeping with the original theatre design.[8][9]

Building features[edit]

The bathrooms inside the Embassy Theatre

Designed in the classical style, the interior of the Embassy Theatre includes a marble staircase with brass fittings, tiled walls and floors, and dark wooden fixtures.[7] Many of the furnishings reflect the overall style, which even carries into the design of the restrooms, which mirror the tiling with and dark wooden fixtures found elsewhere in the theatre. The theatre has three screens, the largest of which is thought to be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.[10] Other amenities include a snack bar and Blondini's Cafe and Jazz Lounge, which provides a wide selection of food and drink options in addition hosting live jazz music.[11] The ground floor also contains the Black Sparrow cocktail bar and two smaller cinemas.

The Embassy Theatre in the news[edit]

When the Theatre hosts film premiers, it is often adorned with film-related sculptures

The theatre was thrust into the international cinematic limelight when it hosted the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on December 1, 2003. Nearly 120,000 people lined the red carpet along Courtenay Place to watch the procession of actors and filmmakers as they made their way into the theatre for the screening.[3] Additionally, the theatre played host to the Australasian premieres of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers,[12] the world premiere of The Return of the King and more recently, a red carpet screening of Peter Jackson's King Kong[13] and the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[14]

Other events[edit]

The Embassy Theatre also takes part in the New Zealand International Arts Festival as well as the New Zealand International Film Festival.


  1. ^ [1] Archived October 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Embassy Theatre Gains Further Heritage Recognition". Archived from the original on October 18, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c [2] Archived October 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [3] Archived May 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ a b "Heritage New Zealand". Historic.org.nz. Archived from the original on 18 October 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Embassy Theatre". Cinematreasures.org. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  8. ^ [5] Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ [6][dead link]
  10. ^ "Wellington City - Local Travel Information and City Guide". Wn.com. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Blondini's Cafe & Jazz Lounge". Wellingtonnz.com. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Heading To Embassy Theatre". Archived from the original on October 16, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  13. ^ [7] Archived May 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "100,000 expected at Hobbit premiere". 3 News (MediaWorks). Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2012.

External links[edit]