The Regal Theatre, Kensington Park

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The Regal Theatre
General information
Architectural style Art Deco
Town or city Kensington Road, Kensington Park (Adelaide), South Australia
Country Australia
Completed 1925
Design and construction
Architect C A Smith

The Regal Theatre, formerly known as the Chelsea[1] is a single screen cinema in Kensington Park, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. The front entrance faces the Marryatville suburb and is seen as being part of the Marryatville business community. It was built in the Art Deco style, completed in 1925.


The theatre's location is part of a ribbon development of shops in the Marryatville centre. This arterial road location was an extension of the Kensington suburb and was built in proximity to the Marryatville Hotel, police station, post office, and former primary school and bowling club sites. It was the locus for the Coopers Brewery site (many of whom worked in Leabrook and lived in Kensington).

The cinema was opened on 24 November 1925, by National Cinemas. The cinema location at 275 Kensington Road has had several boom and recession periods but traditionally experiencing good patronage due to the affluent nature of the surrounding residential and (historically, a farm-based) population. Since opening, it has had a chequered past and was subsequently sold in 1928 to the Ozone Theatres.

An Adelaide News advertisement (placed on 30 May 1941) states the cinema had two sessions: an evening one at 7:50 PM on weeknights and a matinée session at 2:00 PM on Wednesdays and Sundays. Reservations could also have been made by telephoning the cinema.

The initial refurbishment in 1941 allowed the building to be freshened up with new facilities and internal structures. A function room, parents room and facilities for the hearing impaired were installed with this redevelopment. A feature of the entrance foyer included a fireplace. Upholstered chairs made up the seating arrangements. The plaster mouldings adorning the roof and walls of the cinema were added at this time.

The cinema was sold to the Hoyts Cinema Group in 1951. A cinemascope screen was added (and the smaller traditional screen removed) in 1955, allowing for a wider range of movies to be shown. The Burnside City Council bought the building in 1964 and it was leased back to the Hoyts company. in 1971, the Wallis Group took over the lease.

The cinema's future was then discussed at a council meeting in 1977, due to the ongoing need for restoration of the cinema. Wallis Theatres replaced the screen and reduced the seating capacity with some of the sections of the building being white ant infested. During the 1983–1984, period the last of the major renovation activities took place. The screen and projection equipment were again updated by Wallis, allowing the theatre to compete with the then fledgling video industry. The Crying Room was developed into a galley for the confectionery bar area. Subsequently, the function room was usurped as the crying room. The cinema remains as a council-owned property (from 1972), administered by the Republic Theatres Group, which also administers the Trak Cinema, in Toorak Gardens.

Opening of the cinema[edit]

The cinema opened in 1925 as the Princess Theatre.

At the time of opening, the seating capacity was 1300 persons. (The current capacity is some 580 people.)

The cinema was later renamed the Marryatville Ozone Theatre. Wallis Cinemas acquired the cinema in 1971–1972, as part of their expansion of theatres across Adelaide, saving the cinema from demolition.

It was one of the last in Adelaide to still have foot warmers (via a hot water pipe system) during the 1980s.

Heritage listing[edit]

Since 1983, the cinema has been listed on the State Heritage Register. The Wallis company ceased operations at the end of their lease of the cinema in 2009. Republic Theatres took over the running of the cinema in 2012.[2]

Features of the Cinema[edit]

  • Red brick external walls as part of the rear of the cinema complex
  • A Dolby Digital Surround Sound system
  • A soundproofed Crying Room for parents
  • Airconditioning and heating
  • Art deco bathroom facilities
  • Shops located on either side of the cinema entrance

Configuration and capacity[edit]

The cinema is a single screen complex with space for 580 patrons. The original configuration allowed for an orchestra pit around the screen area.

There is a 'vacant' garden block to the east of the cinema owned by the council. This site also contains public toilets and a cinema carpark accessible via Uxbridge Street and May Terrace. This site is a contentious one, allowing the possibility for the cinema to be extended to a twin or multi screen theatre. The closure of the Glenelg Wallis Cinema (also a multi-screen cinema) makes this prospect less likely. With smaller sized cinemas in proximity (Norwood and Magill) the competition is strong for patronage. The site is also used for charity fundraising events on a regular basis.

Modern cinematic presentation features[edit]

The cinema has many modern features including an upgraded screen and Dolby Digital sound system.

The cinema is also capable of projecting 70mm films.

Authentic Art Deco restoration[edit]

While the cinema has modern presentation features, its appearance has been carefully restored to its 1941 Art Deco design, including:

  • Exterior and interior decoration restored to original 1941 colours and styles
  • Georgian motifs within the design work of the cinema and the associated powder room and bathroom
  • Carved emblems in the foyer area as well as a wooden and chrome ticket box
  • Original 1941 design carpeting
  • Replica 1941 Art Deco fireplace, mirror & wooden Venetians in the upstairs foyer
  • Lounge seats and column decorations within the main foyer area

Operation and programming[edit]

The cinema operates mainstream cinema programming. It has an affluent clientele base and also shows a range of Arthouse films.

Historically, the cinema is well known for its Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings (two sessions - late and midnight) during the 1980s.

See also[edit]

Reference sources and external links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°55′35″S 138°39′4″E / 34.92639°S 138.65111°E / -34.92639; 138.65111