Astor Theatre

1 Chapel Street,
Melbourne, VIC 3182

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curmudgeon on June 29, 2015 at 5:49 am

Now taken over by the Palace Cinema chain. Was closed for a number of weeks following George Florenz’s expired lease. Closure was supposedly for renovations. While passing tonight I dropped in to see what upgrades had been made. Admittedly, only had access to foyer areas, but apart from removal of the totally inappropriate canopy over the circle candy bar, was hard pressed to see any improvement. Original box office now unused, along with 50’s ticket box (incidentally, attached to stalls concession stand) which now serves as ticket sales as well, along with bollards leading to this “convenience” that would put most garden mazes to shame. Peeling paint work, exposed cables, buckling wall displays. And don’t even get me started on the exterior. Admittedly those disgusting under awning led lights were installed before Palace Cinemas took over the lease, but HOW ON EARTH can they justify this bastardisation under their name branding? As for the famous neon Fin Light, until such time that restoration is actioned, please just TURN IT OFF. Hate to add to Palace Cinema’s profit, but keen to see if any renovations have taken place due to their claims of “restoring” this iconic building. Recent posts of elderly patrons in the stalls seems to indicate that seating has not been replaced, and most importantly, and sadly, previous lessee refused to acknowledge, installation of larger screen ruined sight-lines in the circle.

DavidZornig on August 24, 2014 at 8:57 am

FYI, closing apparently. Copy & paste link. Thanks to Tim O'Neill for the heads up.

AstorTheatre on August 31, 2012 at 12:55 am

Just to clarify, Ralph is now the new landlord, with no connection to The Astor Theatre – which is my business, and in operation since 1982. The landlord owns the physical building, The Astor Theatre – my business and a registered Trade Mark – is owned by my company (I am not simply a ‘manager’)

kennerado on August 24, 2012 at 4:24 am

The theatre has been sold again, this time to someone who actually knows its value!

The new owner, Ralph Taranto intends on keeping George as the Theatre manager as well.

Giles on May 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

wow, what great programming, I see that a week long run of ‘Raiders of Lost Ark’ of the new 2K Digital Cinema re-master is happening the first week of July!

BrianMc on April 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

The theatre yesterday celebrated it’s 75th anniversary with a screening of 1933’s KING KONG.

Well done George — your theatre is an absolute credit and when it comes to cinema treaures, it is world class.

TLSLOEWS on August 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Very nice theatre,great looking vertical sign.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Wish the street car wasn’t in the way.

AstorTheatre on April 20, 2009 at 6:02 am

Thank you to all the posters on this page. I am the proprietor of The Astor and am pleased to say that the new owners, St Michael’s Grammar School have embarked on an ambitious programme of upgrading and restoration. Nothing relating to the heritage nature of The Astor can or will be altered. It will remain a balconied theatre with 1100 seats. We were pleased with St Michael’s purchase of the Astor freehold, and together hope to launch the Astor into a new phase, that being re-instatement of the stage area for St Michael’s live productions, and other community performance and music related useage. It is my intention to also maintain film screenings as long as the public continue to support this aspect of the Astor. The screen can be engineered so that it is moveable to allow the stage to be used. The level of screenings will depend on the public’s support. As we also control a large library of 35mm and 70mm films (mainly classics from the late 1920s to the late 90’s) it is my intention also to see that the Astor survives well into the future as a ‘working cinema museum’ able to screen real film prints when most other cinemas have converted to digital. Digital is great, yes, but it cannot compare to watching real film – the stuff that ran through the cameras. As there has been no major disruption to the Astor’s continuous screening of film since it opened in 1936 is a good enough reason to expect that film screenings can continue to be part of its future. Thank you for your support. George

JohnHolloway on February 4, 2009 at 9:09 am

Saturday matinees ceased long ago, and now, latest calendar has every Tuesday “closed for private function”. Double feature policy also seems to be waning. Many nights programmed for single feature only. Is this the beginning of the end?

HowardBHaas on December 18, 2007 at 4:11 pm

2007 photo of Astor Theatre historic auditorium:
View link

vic1964 on September 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm

As a projectionist,this looks like a dream come true theatre to work at!I hope it continues with better success.The 70mm programming is very impressive!

RKLT on August 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Sadly the Astor is on the market again. Following the recent multi-plexing of The Westgarth Theatre it is the only unaltered balcony cinema in Melbourne so it will be a tragedy if altered substantially – but economically it has stuggled for years.

markinthedark on August 21, 2007 at 10:24 am

The Astor is indeed a gem. I suggest any cinephile who goes to Melbourne make the pilgrimage, no matter what is playing.

ceebee23 on June 14, 2007 at 8:55 pm

I was at the Astor last Sunday for a screening of Billy Wilder’s “Irma La Douce”. Whilst the print was not the best I can tell you that the Astor’s owners retain a sense of what cinema is all about!!
Not only did we have Edith Piaf singing before the film and during intermission (yes a real intermission …Irma is 140 minutes long) the huge screen and excellent sound system made this a great cinema pleasure!

The Astor is a true jewel. It is wonderful she has heritage protection to ensure she around for a long time to come!

ilreput on March 27, 2007 at 11:20 pm

I saw Cinema Paradiso during it’s original run at this theatre, and I can’t think of a more perfect setting for this or any other film. It’s like being transported to the golden age of cinema. It’s still operating, has a genuine widescreen at 19 metres wide, and 70mm projection equipment. The constantly changing “double features”, are perfect for anyone wanting to see a mix of the old and new, print quality is stated with the best copy available being played. As someone who has lost interest in the modern cinema experience, the Astor is the last bastion of a “night at the flicks” for me.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 17, 2006 at 1:17 pm

An exterior photograph of the Astor Cinema:
View link

michaelhealy on September 21, 2005 at 12:59 pm

September 22nd 2005 -
The Astor is now up for sale! Declining audience numbers given as the reason.

Michael Healy

khannah on February 10, 2005 at 2:11 pm

I would really like to get back in touch with George. My name is Kerron Hannah a good friend of George from around 10 years ago. I had recently about 4 years ago got back in touch but family issues stopped me from further contact. I have asked a few time for my email address to be passed onto George as there is nothing more important to me at the present time to get back in touch with him as he was a very important figure in my up bringing.Please can yo pass on my email to George I would be very greatful, as I am now living in England and it isnt just a case of picking up the phone. Thankyou for your time Kerron Hannah

JakeM on June 14, 2004 at 4:46 am

This is easily the best theatre, revival or otherwise, that I have been to. The quality of presentation is second to none, and I mean that. The picture is bright, clear, and framed properly (the latter is a HUGE pet peeve of mine). Best of all, the screen is massive. I sat in the 6th to the last row at the top of the balcony and the screen filled my entire range of vision. The owners have kept the old time feel of the place, but they do not put that ahead of the quality of the overall experience. There is almost unnoticable sound dampening material on parts of the walls and cieling so it does not have the awful echo of many large old theatres. I could go on for pages about this place (i.e. it has 3 lobbies with couches, overstuffed chairs and a piano, they let you bring glasses of wine into the theatre, the army of ushers who make sure you are seated in the best seats available, etc, etc, etc.) but I’ve taken up enough space already. I know it is out of the way for most people, but if you happen to be near Melbourne, you must pay a visit to the Astor.

JakeM on April 15, 2004 at 1:27 pm

The Astor has an excellent website with many more pictures of the beautiful lobby and auditorium. Visit it NOW!!!

PAULB on January 23, 2004 at 5:36 am

Australia’s premiere and premier location for classic cinema perfectly operated by George Florence and his staff with great dedication.
I recently saw a restored print of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and came away in awe of both the screen size and the excellent presentation.

chevygirl on September 2, 2002 at 4:32 am

What a treasure to find this website!!! And yes, St Kilda’s Astor Theatre is like taking a magnificent step back in time. Thank you so much to the people who keep such beautiful dream palaces alive!