167 Queen Street,
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The newest addition to the Hoyts Theatres chain was the Brisbane Regent Theatre, which opened on 8th November 1929 with “Fox Movietone Follies of 1929”. The programme included ‘georgeous’ stage spectacles and music from classical to jazz was provided by the Regent Grand Concert Orchestra, with Stanley Wallace at the Wurlitzer 3Manual/15Ranks organ. It was designed for both films and live productions which followed the trend for similar buildings of that era. It was the first of the lavish American-styled picture palaces to be built in Queensland. It was an exhuberant mixture of Gothic and Empire period styles. The narrow black marble entrance hall with decorated barrel-vaulted ceiling and friezes was only a prelude to the stunning Gothic style foyer reminiscent of a medieval chapel where the arched ceiling murals were richly depicted in 13th century scenes. The immense white Queensland marble staircase which led to the mezzanine foyer was impressive. The workmanship was sumptuous.
Highlights in the auditorium were an elliptical dome in the main ceiling, chandelier, ornate proscenium arch, stage curtains, boxes, candelabra and orchestra pit which held 25 musicians. The Wurlitzer organ was removed from the building in November 1963 and was sold to a private residence in Lawson, N.S.W. Until 1978 when renovations were made, the original auditorium existed which had a capacity for 2,583 with 1,400 in the stalls and 1,183 in the balcony. The final performance in the original auditorium was on 29th July 1978 with a capacity audience attending a preview screening of “Thank God It’s Friday” plus selected film clips from 1929-1978.
Despite a ‘Save the Regent Campaign’, sadly, the magnificent auditorium was stripped of its fixtures and fittings in December 1978. In May 1979 work began on the internal demolition of the auditorium back to its brick walls. A four-screen cinema complex with 1,978 seats was built, of which Cinema One was decorated similarly to the earlier theme. The original 1929-era front of house and main foyers in their Gothic style were retained as an entrance to the plain cinemas.
In February 2008, plans were put forward to close the Regent Theatre, retaining the heritage listed facade and main foyers which would become an entrance to a new office tower block, to be built on the site of the auditoriums.
Greater Union Event Theatres closed the Regent Theatre on 5th June 2010 with “Titanic”, “Casablanca” and “Sex in the City” and “Lord of the Rings” being the final films screened. In November 2011, scaffold was erected on the front entrance to the building, in preparation for its demolition/conversion into the new office tower entrance. Demolition of the auditorium was completed in May 2012. The site of the auditorium remains an empty ‘hole in the ground’ in 2015. The main foyer and outer foyer have been converted into a tourist information centre.
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