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History of the Regent Theatre: 1978

By Allan Webb Prev | Next

There was a shortage of good midweek product in 1978, which saw most of the weeks with one to two nights dark.

Star Wars played with 2,219 admits over eight days and the enormously successful In Search of Noah's Ark, which was an inaugural event in that it screened simultaneously here and the major cinemas, had 2,047 patrons in five days over Easter. The same year brought the start of the successful Wilderness Family Adventures, the first of the titles being Sea Gypsies, which drew 3,345 people in a week.

This year also marked the first Telethon, which affected business immensely and even the huge hit Saturday Night Fever could not attract big crowds over the weekend, but by the last night, being a Wednesday, the Theatre was nearly full.

Grease had been showing in Hamilton for over two months and pressure was being put on Cinema International to provide the smaller situations with prints. Rather than have a confrontation with all the exhibitors claiming priority, Reg Felton who was the General Manager, booked the film into Labour Weekend at each of the larger 'small' locations in the Waikato area. This film ran here for an unprecedented three weeks with a total of 6,031 people attending. Grease was re-screened about every three months for ages later and always to healthy numbers.

Also during 1978, we had a very good run with more car chase films at very reasonable film hires. Speedtrap, Smokey and the Bandit, Breaker Breaker and Gone In 60 Seconds screened within five weeks of each other.

Three Movie Marathons were now being screened on Sundays when there was a public holiday the next day and these proved to be extremely popular. They were an idea of mine and ended up screening all over New Zealand. Prior to that I tried two double features, playing one at 7pm then the other as a late show. They were quite successful but Te Awamutu didn't respond very well to Late Shows. With good repeat titles that suited young adults, the theatre would be near to full each time a Three Movie Marathon was screened.

The school holiday matinees were always popular and at least one new movie was shown daily. Disney family films were usually shown for one day only, with up to five sessions. In those days Disney films had to have the last screening no earlier than 7.30 and that last performance was always poorly attended, so it was more profitable to screen more sessions on one day than spread them over two or more days.

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