History

The original directors of Star Theatres Pty Ltd owned a number of theatres in northern Tasmania in the 1930s. They wanted to extend their chain into the suburbs of Launceston and it was felt that Invermay would be the ideal location as it was still close to the central business district. The idea was to create a world-class venue equal to the luxurious theatres of Sydney that would provide entertainment for locals and visitors alike.

 

Crick and Furse, one of Australia’s leading cinema design firms, were the architects for the project in association with Harold Masters of Launceston. It was built by J and T Gunn Pty Ltd for a cost of approximately 15,000 pounds.

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Star Theatre Opening Advertisement - The Examiner

The theatre opened on 5 October 1937 with The Star news service, followed by James Glason and Zazu Fitts in a ‘Romantic Mystery Comedy & Spine-Tingling Thriller’ called ‘The Plot Thickens’ and then the main feature film ‘Roberta’ starred Irene Dunn, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

According to The Examiner (6 October 1937), in addition to a packed audience, hundreds of people gathered outside the cinema to admire the neon lighting that decorated the exterior of the building.

The theatre had many features that were considered ahead of its time. The lighting consisted of over 1200 feet of neon gas tubing including a large star that was visible up and down Invermay Road. It was often described as ‘the first star in the night sky’ over Launceston.

The interior lighting consisted of dimmable neon tubes hidden within the recesses of the walls. The blue coloured lights and the lemon shade of the ceiling produced a pale green light that gave the effect of a ceiling made of glass. The seats were designed for maximum comfort and were made using Tasmanian hardwood and rubber cushioning.

The sound quality was second to none. The auditorium was designed to achiveve the best possible acoustics and the sound equipment was ‘RCA Photophone High Fidelity’, the same as that used at The Roxy Theatre in New York.

Due to the advent of television, The Star Theatre sadly ceased operation as a cinema in 1969. It then became an outlet for St Vincent de Paul, to whom we are extremely indebted, because they cared for the building for many years. It is essentially thanks to them and other people who have protected Launceston’s older buildings, that this architectural gem is still essentially intact, and Launceston can finally reclaim it as a cinema once again!

Star Theatre Launceston Old Black & White Photo

The Star – Past, Present & Future Booklet

$20.00

Learn about the history of The Star Theatre, cinema in Australia in the 1930s, other Art Deco cinemas and the plans to reinvigorate this iconic building. Written by Paul Lee-Archer, one of the owners of The Star. 20 x 25cm, soft cover, full colour 28 page booklet.

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