The charmingly retro Lorne Theatre gets set for a revival this summer, as the team behind Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema breathes new life into the much-loved seaside gem.
The iconic Lorne Theatre, a beloved coastal landmark and one of regional Victoria’s oldest silver screens, is gearing up for a summer revival. The team behind Sydney’s renowned Golden Age Cinema & Bar, along with Melbourne’s Rooftop Cinema, is set to breathe new life into this charmingly retro cinema, promising an inspired program of special summer screenings.
Brothers Barrie, Bob, and Chris Barton, known for their work at the Golden Age Cinema & Bar and Melbourne’s Rooftop Cinema, have taken over the reins of this heritage-listed theatre. After temporarily closing, the Lorne Theatre will reopen next month for a pop-up summer season before an extensive restoration and refurbishment in collaboration with Heritage Victoria.
- Lorne Theatre re-opens with new operators Barrie, Bob and Chris Barton, co-founders of Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema & Bar and Melbourne’s Rooftop Cinema
- A pop-up season of summer screenings commences 1 December
- The venue will undergo a full refurbishment before reopening late in 2024
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The restoration project, scheduled for late 2024, will bring about significant changes, including the addition of a licensed bar, an interior design highlighting the theatre’s Art Deco charm, and enhancements in seating, lighting, acoustics, snack bar menus, programming, and more. The goal is not to reinvent the wheel but to restore the Lorne Theatre to its original splendour.
The Lorne Theatre, a 550-seat cinema, has been a local fixture since 1937 and was led by the dedicated Tony Hill for over 30 years. It holds a special place in the hearts of generations of moviegoers, and its revival promises a reimagined program designed to attract a new generation of cinephiles and culture lovers.
“Our plans for the building are not to reinvent the wheel, but to add some love and polish and restore the Lorne Theatre to its original splendour,” explains new co-owner Chris Barton.
“We want to accentuate that same charm and sense of grandeur that has captivated visitors for more than 80 years and help ensure the theatre’s future as a truly special cultural experience into the future.”
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As the Geelong-raised Barton brothers take the helm, they bring their ‘social cinema’ approach to Lorne, emphasising curated programming, an enhanced hospitality experience, and the cinema as a central hub. This summer, the theatre will offer an engaging lineup of contemporary and classic films, special film series, and live performances, running through Easter. The program includes a Christmas Cracker film extravaganza and Surfside, a limited film series presented by surf, skate, and culture magazine Monster Children.
“As a family, some of our fondest summer memories were formed within the walls of the Lorne Theatre,” Chris continues. “It has always been a special place for us and we’re deeply aware of the space this building holds in the hearts of generations of local and visiting movie lovers. This shared personal history with the space is why we jumped at this opportunity. It’s a huge legacy to take on, but it’s one that we’re very excited to uphold and build upon.”
Kate Jinx, the longstanding Director of Programming at Golden Age Cinema, will provide curatorial and exhibition guidance to Cinema Manager Jessa Shields, who brings her expertise from roles at Palace Cinema Como, Lido Cinemas, and Golden Age Cinema & Bar.
The Lorne and Surf Coast community, as well as cinema enthusiasts from near and far, are invited to be part of this exciting revival of the iconic Lorne Theatre. It promises to offer inspiration, lasting memories, and an important cultural role for the next century.
The Lorne Theatre is located at 76-80 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne. Tickets for the Lorne Theatre’s new summer program are available here.