Regal Cinema to mark anniversary of its rebirth by screening past favourites

Regal Cinema manager Jo Smith, right, with programmer George Merryman amd Frankie the dog. Picture: Peter Stoop THE Regal Cinema will give a nod to its historic past and celebrate its future when it screens two classic films on Saturday.

Cinema manager Jo Smith and programmer George Merryman have chosen to show Two Men Went To War and The World’s Fastest Indian, the films that screened on what was thought to be the cinema’s last day on October 31, 2006 after 56 years of operation.

Bruce Avard, who had operated the cinema for 40 years, had selected the films as his swansong.

‘‘Bruce was the heart and soul of the Regal, he did all the programming and would show films that no one else in the country would screen – such as foreign, independent and Australian films – as well as bring back older films that were no longer popular but that audiences were asking for,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘He was still showing Two Men Went To War eight years after it was released.

‘‘This is about remembering our history and the great contribution that Bruce made to the region, as well as the work of many people to bring the cinema back to life.’’

Newcastle City Council owned the Regal and decided in 2006 it should close due to safety concerns.

Friends Of The Regal was born and worked with members of the film industry to save the landmark, which the council later gave to the newly formed Regal Cinema Trust to operate.

Member for Wallsend Sonia Horney sourced a $140,000 grant in 2011 for refurbishment and to buy digital equipment and seating used in the filming and production of Happy Feet Two.

‘‘We have four seats in the back of the cinema that Brad Pitt [who appeared in the film] would have sat in, we call it The Pitt Stop,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘People still cherish coming here; it’s been part of their lives and connects them to happy memories.’’

The Regal continues to show Australian, independent and foreign language films alongside popular films.

It is the only cinema in the country showing The Grand Seduction and was showing nightly screenings of Sunshine On Leith, which had a limited run in theatres.

It will introduce a cult classic night on the first Friday of the month from next week and will also host Saturday matinees with old newsreels.

Two Men Went To War screens at 5pm and The World’s Fastest Indian screens at 7.30pm at 4 Moore Street, Birmingham Gardens.

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