Tag Archives: For Lease

The Marina Picture Palace/Videomania/For Lease – Rosebery, NSW

Let’s go back to the world of movies with this piece of work. It’s been sitting on Gardeners Road, Rosebery for a long time, and it shows. The signs promise ‘Videomania’, but for the last ten years it’s been derelict. Before we perform the post-mortem, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the life and times of the former Marina Theatre…

The Marina Theatre, 1941. Note the two sweet shops sitting to the left of the cinema. Also notice the bicyclists not wearing helmets, a quick way to end up with a puddin’ head. Image courtesy City of Botany Bay Local History Image Archive.

The Marina Picture Palace opened in June, 1927 with a hot double feature of Sparrows, starring Mary Pickford, and The Beloved Rogue, with John Barrymore.

Here’s an off-topic aside: The Beloved Rogue became a lost film for 40 years after its release until a well-preserved copy was found in the private collection of Mary Pickford. Now we can all enjoy Barrymore’s admitted overacting as Francois Villon. At least, we could if our video shops were as open as they used to be.

For those with a romantic image of how the cinemagoing experience used to be, and how grand it would have been back then to while away an afternoon at the picture palace, please allow me to now rain on your parade (or spoil your ending). In a scene more suited to modern-day Greater Union Hurstville, ‘excitement prevailed’ at the Marina in 1928:

Townsville Daily Bulletin, 3 Apr 1928.

The reference to ‘complete order’ is very Third Reich, isn’t it? Also, it really was ‘fortunate’, wasn’t it, that the molotov fell into the ‘side aisles’ (cheap seats). Yes, what a bit of excitement.

The Marina Theatre, 1952. Note that only one sweet shop remains. Image courtesy Sydney Reference Collection.

From the early 1960s, the cinema opened and closed a number of times under various independent ownerships. It’s safe to say that if even Hoyts wasn’t taking the bait and buying it up, it must have had something wrong with it. The Marina’s stop-start existence carried on throughout the next twenty years until it was renamed the Rosebery Cinema in the early 80s. That’ll get the crowds back in. Or maybe it was to fool the molotov throwers into thinking it was a different cinema? Either way, GOOD PLAN. So good in fact that the Marina closed for good as a theatre in 1984.

Here’s where we come in. Since that time it’s been Videomania, and now a derelict hulk. It’s a close call, but one of these incarnations is slightly more interesting. Fittingly, Videomania closed in 2002, when video-mania had all but died out, and videomaniacs had flocked to DVD. Rather than switching to a better quality format that takes up less shelf space, Videomania chose to fall on its sword.

You mean ‘weeklies’.

Even though the site is empty, the front window still contains some strange sights.

This trading hours sign indicates that the video shop NEVER CLOSED. Finding this is like finding a gravestone that reads B. 1929 D. —

A series of Greek film posters sit in the window too. Doesn’t that one on the right look enticing. Can’t wait to see that one.

There’s a poster for the Nintendo 64 game Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which was released in 1997. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2001, and Acclaim, the company responsible for Turok, went out of business in 2004. Fitting choice.

My favourite, and most bizarrely of all, is this full sized Leonardo standup. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during my adventures with this blog, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Leo stands as the building’s watchful protector – ready to cut down intruders with his blunt katana and a killer smile.

The sign at the front advertises The Full Monty, another 1997 release. Or at least, it did once upon a time. It’s often irritating to only get to see some of these places from the outside. You stand there wondering what it must be like inside given how well-preserved the exterior is, and whether the other Ninja Turtles are lurking within. Well, wonder no more, as thanks to the folks at Kelly & Sons Real Estate, we can get quite a good look at what’s happening inside the old Marina:

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Image courtesy Kelly & Sons Real Estate.

Remember, if you like what you see, you too can lease this bad boy for only $130k pa. What a steal! Kelly & Sons – holla at me so I can let you know where to send my commission.

What an ugly building. There, I said it.

Despite Videomania acting as a testament to the failure of the video shop concept in Rosebery, Top Video at some point decided to make a go of it next door. Smart thinking.

Setting up in what was clearly a bank (and before that, the Marina’s sweet shops), Top Video expected to bank fat coin on the back of Videomania’s failure.

The new release poster left inside suggests that things went wrong around 2008-09. A legacy that started with Sparrows ends with You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.

As I turned to leave, I took one last look back at Videomania, and it looked like the building was crying. Look at those top windows. It was as if the theatre was imploring me, as the only one around who cared, to put it out of its misery. I would, Marina, honestly, it’s just…that Leonardo is one intimidating dude.

VIRTUAL UPDATE: An explosive new picture of the Marina/Roxy/Videomania from 1996 has come to light! Check it:

From this, we can see the bank next door was in fact an ANZ, that the Videomania side entrance was once viable, and that VIRTUAL REALITY IS HERE. How else could I have known it was from 1996?

FUTURISTIC UPDATE:  I revisited the Marina a year later and made an explosive discovery.

ROCKIN’ UPDATE: The development-minded Vlattas family, owners of the Cleveland Street Theatre and the Newtown Hub, are currently renovating the Marina with the aim of turning it into a live music venue. My suggestion: keep Leonardo as your bouncer. Thanks, reader Rozie!

Botany Access Equipment Hire/For Lease – Botany, NSW

Did you ever borrow something from the library or video shop and “accidentally” never return it? Well, this is what happens. Shame on you.

T.W. Green Wool Stores/Trojan Workforce Recruitment/For Lease – Glebe, NSW

Thomas W. Green established his wool handling and broking business in 1905, a time long before recruitment agencies. The Green empire spread itself over two locations; one in Queanbeyan and one here at Glebe. This was at a time when Glebe’s stores were full of first-hand wool. Stunning, I know.

TWG Wool, presumably renamed KFC-style in the 90s by a pony-tailed marketing man, was purchased by Landmark in 2005, and has practically disappeared since. The Glebe location was taken over by the terribly named Trojan Workforce recruitment company on the first level, and the awesomely named Ultraceuticals Pty Ltd on the second. They could literally put heroin or mutagen in a bottle marked Ultraceuticals and I’d down it without thinking twice.

While researching this place, I stumbled upon what may have been a contributing factor to T. W. Green’s desertion of this location:

Barrier Miner, Mar 22 1950

“I’m sorry, sir, but only the J. Wilson from J. W. Green is allowed to redeem this prize!”

It wouldn’t surprise me if a. that actually happened and b. NSW Lotteries did this kind of thing more often. “Oh, sorry Mr. Smith, but this prize can only be claimed by Mr. Snith. Check the results again.” Talk about pulling the wool over your eyes.

Epping Theatre/Fashions Galore/Video Ezy/Network Video & Gloria Jean’s & Jackie’s Hair and Beauty – Epping, NSW

Another testament to the power and influence of video shops in the old days – it took three shops to replace one giant Video Ezy. You can see on the left the space where new release posters would have hung, luring potential new members inside and forcing them to think of a password of the easily forgettable variety in order to get a video card just to be able to hire Maverick for the night. Sadly for the former king of weekly entertainment, Ezy Street is a long way away these days.

Meanwhile, if you paired up locations of the ubiquitous Gloria Jean’s with Thai restaurants, you might find the number is a perfect match. Even Mickey D’s doesn’t cover this kind of territory.

THEATRICAL UPDATE: After digging a bit deeper (read: having a look around the back), it’s become apparent that this location has a bit more to it than it would seem. From the 1930s to at least the 1950s, this was the site of Epping Theatre, which is laughably obvious when you check out the rear:

If it looks like a theatre etc… The discovery of the ‘Fashions Galore’ sign means that this is now probably the longest titled entry on this blog – quite an achievement given the competition. Epping Theatre is a bit of a mystery; apart from some old ‘staff wanted’ ads and its listing in several State Library photo archives (currently unseen), there’s not much out there. Or is there? Readers, if you can help, you know what to do.

HELPFUL UPDATE: Reader Carmen was kind enough to send in a picture of Epping Theatre in its prime. Judging by the films on show – Johnny Belinda, The Gallant Blade and Red Canyon – this was taken in 1949. Check it out:

Epping Theatre, 1949. Thanks to reader Carmen for the image!

PS. Just in case you didn’t believe this was at any stage a Video Ezy, check out this solid gold proof that awaits those brave enough to wander up the back alley:

It says a lot about the current state of Video Ezy that this guy’s chosen to park there despite the sign. Ballsy.

New Kings Theatre/Greater Union/For Lease – Mosman, NSW

The New Kings Theatre, Mosman, 1937. Image courtesy State Library of NSW.

Over the years, the New Kings Theatre at Mosman went by a variety of names – the Kings, the Classic – until it was finally caught in the current of progress in 1976. The Village cinema chain took over the art deco theatre that year, and it ran in friendly competition with its nearby contemporary, the Cremorne Orpheum.

But in a story that’s all too familiar in the world of old theatres, suits suddenly appeared on the scene and started making decisions on behalf of business. Greater Union demolished the New Classic Kings Village in 1986, a move which shocked the community. The twin cinema that replaced it opened in 1988 to much fanfare; so cheesy and contrived was the whole venture that even the cinema’s phone number was 9969 1988. Sheesh.

On paper, you’d think replacing an old 30s single screen picture theatre with a modern twin would be like printing money, but 23 years after its grand opening, the Greater Union Mosman was printing termination notices for its staff.

The GU’s profits didn’t come anywhere close to those at the still-vintage Cremorne Orpheum, and in 2011 the twin closed its doors for the final time. It’s currently waiting, like much of Mosman’s shopping district, to be demolished and redeveloped into residential/commercial towers, but until that happens it stands as a testament to the Orpheum’s appeal and triumph over progress.