The Astor Reopens

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By Jason Smeaton

June 25th saw the neon ASTOR light up once more as the 1936 single-screen cinema reopened.

The Melbourne premier of Gillian Armstrong’s Women He’s Undressed began the Astor’s new chapter. The film told the story of Australian three-time Oscar winner, costumer designer Orry-Kelly. Kelly’s most notable work can be seen in the Marilyn Monroe classic Some Like It Hot.

Women He’s Undressed was a perfect encapsulation of the former glory of Hollywood and its significance on the present day film industry; a theme that also correlates to the role of the Astor theatre.

When Melbourne is not noting itself as the sporting or café capital of Australia it likes to also claim the title as the cultural city. It cannot be refuted that St Kilda is its beating heart of art and culture.

Although, recent years have seen fierce battles over the future existence and preservation of some of St Kilda’s most recognised cultural buildings. The 1936 art deco Astor Theatre was not immune to such threats with St Michael’s school planning to transform the cinema into a performing arts centre.

As the end of a cultural era seemed imminent, Palace Cinemas, a cinema chain that is usually known for its multiplex blockbuster screenings, saved the Astor.

Palace Cinemas will become custodians of the theatre but the Astor will not become brandished with blockbuster commercialisation. The Astor is a unique institution that continues to offer a cinema experience in homage to the classic heritage of film and cinematic arts.

The Astor is a 1,150 seat single-screen cinema, refurbished to its 1936 art deco integrity providing an atmosphere of when cinema was an awe inspiring indulgence.

However, this does not mean the Astor has not progressed; it features a state of the art sound system and cinema screen to ensure a full cinematic experience.

Whether you are in the mood for a recent release, a cult favourite or a classic, the Astor offers all three in a variety of digital, 35mm and the now rare but magical 70mm projections.

Not only does the Astor offer viewings of a more diverse range of films but also will uphold its tradition of the double feature.

The double feature (a viewing of two full length films) is a great showcase of some of the greatest film classics and is also cheaper than a new release at a multiplex, saving you a few dollars to sample one of the Astor’s famous choc-tops.

St Kilda can continue to cherish the Astor Theatre and maintain its role as Melbourne’s artistic core.



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