The building in which the Warragul Cinema Centre occupies has a long and interesting history.
Situated in the central business district it has been the primary entertainment venue for
Warragul and surrounding areas since the 1930’s when Mr. W.A Lawson built and operated an
impressive cinema and live theatre.
From the 1930’s to 1950’s the building underwent a series of re-developments. With a seating
capacity of 960 complete with stage, dress circle and stalls and near perfect acoustics,
this building was the venue for all-live shows and public hall events such as school speech night’s etc.
within the area. It proudly boasts the appearance of the renowned pianist, Winifred Artwell who
played to a packed house. Even the local boy, Lionel Rose boxed at this venue. It was and still is the
hub of entertainment for the district.
As was the case with many large entertainment venues, the theatre closed in the late 1970’s and for a
brief period, shops and offices leased the downstairs section of the building. The upstairs space
remained empty prior to an indoor Cricket Club occupying this area that is currently our cinema premises.
In the late 1990’s Graeme and Deborah Hollingsworth saw the need for a cinema complex in the district and
persuaded the owners of the building to once again develop the site.
The Warragul Cinema Centre re-opened its doors to the public on 1st January 1998 as a modern three screen
cinema complex. With a seating capacity of 430, large screens, Dolby sound systems and screening a
large number of blockbuster, main stream and art-house movies, the centre has once again become
the entertainment hub of the district.
In July 2002 The Warragul Cinema Centre became part of the Peninsula Cinema Group.
For more information, please contact the General Manager, Kelly Moroney.
Construction of the Sorrento Athenaeum Hall commenced in 1894, and comprised of a limestone
building housing a large hall, a stage with a cellar, dressing rooms, two shops and a
separate residence above. Sorrento Shopkeeper Mr. D. Macfarlane owned the cinema during this period.
Approximately in 1918 a Bio cabin was erected between the main lobby, the shop and the hall.
Films were projected through the central back door of the hallway. In 1919 electricity was
introduced and saw the removal of all gas lamps.
1925 saw the expansion of the “Athenaeum Picture Theatre“ resulting in a seating capacity of 592.
1932 saw alterations again, the cinema was installed with an RCA sound system and seating capacity
reduced to 530. The projectionists during this period were Mr. D. Macfarlane and Mr. S. Phillingham.
Mrs. Rosa Kirby became the owner in 1949, Mr. George Kirby of Kirby Theatres was in charge of showing
the films. During this period the theatre underwent major refurbishment and renovations,
including new projectors and wiring of the premises. Numerous plans for further expasion were drawn
up over this period however nothing came to fruition.
In 1965 the theatre manager was Donald James Ross and the projectionist was Alan Willard Croad.
In the early 1990’s the ownership transferred from Roc Kirby to a partnership between Robert and Mem Kirby and Tony Zeccola,
They operated the single screen cinema, which seated 471 patrons, on weekends and school holidays through until 1995.
At this point Robert and Mem took full ownership and set about redeveloping the complex.
Mid 1995 restoration works started on the foyer and main auditorium, this included a complete refit of seats, painting,
lighting and the addition of air conditioning.
October 1996 stage two of the development commenced. The front two shops were demolished to be replaced by two modern
cinemas with up to date projection equipment, new sound system, a new ticket box with a computerised ticketing system,
also a new shop facing Main Street, new toilets including disabled access.
The games / confectionery shop on the north side of the complex was also redeveloped and leased out as a restaurant.
Mem Kirby and Tibor Hubay completed the redecorating with a seaside theme throughout.
Works were completed in time for a December opening with the premier charity screening of Hotel Sorrento.
From this point the complex has operated every day of the year with the exception of Christmas Day.
For more information, please contact General Manager, David Croad.
Originally located in the Broadway on Nepean highway, Rosebud cinema moved to its current address in 1977.
It was then an independent cinema owned by Lloyd and Marie Whitaker and managed by Peter Hansen.
It opened at this site on December 21st 1977 with a single screen. In 1983 a second screen was added and
in 1994 a third screen was completed which permitted the complex to screen up to 24 sessions a day.
On the 20th November 1997 Rosebud cinema opened for trade after being transformed into a six-screen complex.
It was then owned by a partnership between Lloyd and Marie Whitaker and Robert and Mem Kirby.
The architect employed for this transformation was Cinecon, the builders were Behmer & Wright and the
interior designer was Tibor Hubay.
The new millennium marked the end of the partnership between the Whitakers and the Kirby’s and the cinema is now currently
owned entirely by Robert and Mem Kirby.
For more information, please contact the General Manager, Samantha Wood.