Plaza Arcade, Hay Street Mall,
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Hoyts' Plaza Theatre was opened on Perth’s Hay Street on 16th September 1937 and had a seating capacity of 1,314. Built on the site of the former Majestic Picture Theatre, the theatre was part of a new arcade development linking Hay and Murray Streets. The arcade remains one of Perth’s busiest, while the theatre has been closed and put to other uses in recent decades.
Designed by architect William G. Bennett in association with Melbourne’s H. Vivian Taylor of architectural firm Taylor, Soilleux & Overend, the facade of the theatre/arcade is narrow but dramatic, presenting a stylised skyscraper effect in classic art deco fashion. It opened a year in advance of the rival development of the Piccadilly Theatre (still operating) and Arcade, located 60 metres further to the west on Hay Street.
Like its late-1930s rivals – the Piccadilly Theatre and the Metro Theatre (on William Street) – the Plaza Theatre offered a new level of comfort for Perth’s movie-goers. Unlike the vast Atmospheric style Ambassadors Theatre (across the street from the Plaza Theatre) and the monumental Capitol Theatre (on William Street), the new-wave Art Deco style cinemas were compact and stylishly modern. The Plaza Theatre was remodelled in 1940 to the plans of architect William T. Leighton.
The Plaza Theatre underwent an extensive upgrade in 1965, re-opening with “The Sound of Music”. With increased capacity, a new screen and plusher appointments, the Plaza Theatre became Hoyts' premier theatre in Western Australia, home to the blockbusters. In August 1965 Hoyts chose (for reasons unknown) to re-name the theatre the Paris Cinema. Soon after, Hoyts relinguished their lease to the Ace Theatre group. With the advent of the multi-screen central city and suburban complexes, the Paris Cinema was shut down in 1984, briefly becoming a youth disco.
My first experience of the Plaza Theatre was in the late-1950’s when, as a very young child, I saw Michael Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days”. My one memory of the film is of Shirley MacLaine about to be burnt alive on the funeral pyre. It still gives me nightmares!
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