A homage to the golden age of Cinema, Thornbury Picture House is tipped to be a new hive of North-side get-togethers when it opens its doors in March.
The glorious new picture house and bar is the latest project from one of Melbourne's most passionate independent cinema curators, Gus Berger. Among many other things, he was responsible for the 2013-2014 George Revival Cinema in St Kilda.
The stunning transformation of the 1919 motor garage into a new 57-seat cinema and accompanying bar has seen Gus and his team working tirelessly for many months, following a long vision to acquire the building.
'Ever since I was forced out of the George Revival Cinema, I had been looking for a new home and I knew that it had to be north-side. So many arts-minded people live out this way and there wasn't an indie cinema catering to them. I have had my eyes on this old garage in Thornbury for years, I kept persisting and eventually secured the long lease that made the birth of Thornbury Picture House possible," says Gus.
Despite being a small cinema, the experience is premium: a big 6 metre screen, a state of the art Krix 5.1 sound system and large comfortable seats create the unique immersion that can't be replicated in a living room. Design accents include historical film objects such as film canisters, classic Cuban film posters, 8mm and 35mm film cameras, set-lights and 16mm projectors, it's a wholly authentic golden age cinema experience.
With a design that honours the building's origins, Gus and his team have spent many hours stripping layers and layers of paint to reveal stunning 100-year-old tiles in remarkable condition.
The new destination for independent film lovers will boast an exquisite program of well-known festival favourites, documentaries, late night cult films, treasured classics, children's films and other local and international films that may have otherwise been unlikely to get an Australian release.
In addition to the regular cinema program, the space will also be a platform for local filmmakers to premiere new independent feature films. Gus also plans to start a north-side film festival and will relocate his long-running short film event, Red Hot Shorts, that has been running at ACMI for over a decade. Gus' music documentary series The Docs That Rocked The World will also find a new home at the Thornbury cinema.
The Thornbury Picture House bar, designed by Julian Beattie of Makestuff (Saving Grace bar, Uncle Joe's Bar, Cure Bar), has art-nouveau inspired wooden accents, complemented by the original motor garage undercover forecourt on High St, updated with recycled wooden furniture and greenery. It's a place to digest your film over a locally produced G&T, wine or beer.
Spirits on offer will include Healesville's Four Pillars Gin, Australian White Light Vodka and Melbourne's untraditional single malt, Starward Whisky. Beer flowing from local breweries including Collingwood's Stomping Ground and Sample, Thornbury's own Three Ravens and Reservoir's Hawkers will be complemented by a selection of independent local wines. Padre will provide batch brew coffee. Movie snacks will include home-made popcorn, incredible choc-tops, Maltesers and more.
The picture house bar has partnered with local Italian favourite, Umberto Espresso Bar, to offer patrons delicious share plates such as calamari, polenta chips and antipasto.
Gus hopes Thornbury Picture House will be a true local cinema for the community, inspiring people to -pause' Netflix and be reminded of what makes seeing a film in the cinema so special.
'We hope to return to the magic of the early single screen cinemas that have flourished in the area for a hundred years. The program will be carefully curated and the bar inviting. We won't necessarily play the big blockbusters but we hope to cater to everyone in the area who loves film and going to the movies," Gus says.
'We are a small cinema but our screen isn't. Our ticket prices will be less expensive than other cinemas and our home-made popcorn will also be more affordable.
'We can't wait to bring a truly local and very independent cinema to the Thornbury community."
The Thornbury Picture House is located at 802 High St Thornbury. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 3pm, with the bar licensed until 11pm. Fridays however, will open early, beginning with a -cry baby' session at 10am. There will be at least three sessions on weekdays and four on weekends.
$18.50 (full) $15 (concession and friends of TPH) $12 (seniors/kids)
Big Wednesdays - all tickets $12
Bookings will be available via the cinema's website from early March: www.thornburypicturehouse.com.au