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New owners take on Launceston’s Star Theatre | The Examiner


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One of Launceston’s most treasured art deco buildings has new owners following the completion of the sale the week before Christmas. The Star Theatre, located at Invermay, opened in 1937 and spent more than 30 years bringing joy to local audiences. When it closed in 1969 many were heartbroken, but it was restored and reopened as a cinema in 2018. Previous co-owners Andrew Quaile, Ben Davis and Paul Lee-Archer decided to sell in 2021 to work on other projects. READ MORE: Tasmanian in a state of COVID confusion after testing, contact changes After being on the market since May, the theatre was snapped up by independent cinema-lover Michael Smith, and his wife Anne. Mr Smith has worked in the cinema industry his whole life and previously bought the Sun Theatre, located at Yarraville, Victoria, about 25 years ago as a wreck. “It was a building about to fall down. It was in desperate need of restoration,” Mr Smith said. “We had a dream of a lovely old art deco building and we brought it back to life.” The pair have worked as consultants, helping other regional and independent cinema owners find their feet in the industry. Therefore, when the Star’s previous owners visited the Sun Theatre for inspiration, Mr Smith gave them advice. “Then from the time they opened, we chose the films for them and booked pictures in so they didn’t have to worry about that,” he said. “It was lovely being there from the start when the Star reopened.” READ MORE: Virus, victory, and vitriol: a year in state politics for 2021 When the Star was put on the market, it was no surprise that Mr Smith and his wife were interested, but after a tumultuous time during COVID-19 for cinemas, they were unsure if it was the right move. “There is something about an old art deco cinema … something about walking in and you straight away get carried back to that golden age of the movies,” he said. “Once the cinemas reopened and there was a sense of confidence out there, we thought now was the time.” Following a visit to the Star after their purchase, Mr Smith said all staff and volunteers had been asked to stay on. In terms of changes to the beloved Star Theatre, cinema-goers do not have to worry as the place will stay relatively the same. “There is still something special about getting out of home … and seeing a film on the big screen. I think independent cinemas are great at nurturing what films people can see,” Mr Smith said. “We will just look at what opportunities there are to put in some renewed efforts to bring people to the movies more often.” Attendees can expect the opening hours of the theatre to change, and an increased effort to get films at the cinema sooner. When the Star was advertised for sale, there had also been an extra cinema proposal, which Mr Smith plans on developing soon. “We really love doing events and I think the Star lends itself … to things like whiskey tastings and private events,” he said. “I would really like to encourage the people of Launceston that they have this amazing asset and it’s a really cool place [for events].” Mr Smith said in Yaraville, the cinema had seen some industry professionals visit and he would love to have that in Launceston too. What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor:

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