Prince Edward Theatre

36-42 Castlereagh Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000

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Prince Edward Theatre

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The Prince Edward Theatre opened on 22nd November 1924 with the silent version of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments”, which ran for 36 weeks. It was designed by the architectural firm Robertson and Marks, with marble staircases, a fountain, and a 16 foot crystal chandelier in the dome in the auditorium. The theatre had a Wurlitzer 2Manual/10Ranks organ which was opened by American organist Eddie Horton, who had come over from the California Theatre, San Francisco, California. There was a full orchestra, the Prince Edward Concert Orchestra, initially conducted by American conductor Will Prior, from Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre, Los Angeles, California. Stage presentation Prologues were also featured as part of the programme in the early years.

Bob Hope attended the opening of his film “The Seven Little Foys” in June 1955, which included an appearance on the stage. Almost every film screened at the Prince Edward Theatre was from the Paramount Studios.

It closed on 4 December 1965 with a re-presentation of “War and Peace, starring Audrey Hepburn. It was later demolished.

Contributed by Graeme McBain

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

KenR on August 31, 2012 at 7:41 am

While cleaning up today, found an old Theatre Ticket. It was for the final screening at the Prince Edward Thr in Syd, dated Sat 4th December (1965). The film that brought down the final curtain was the disappointing Paramount release of “War and Peace” ~ Great IB Technicolor and Cast, but a rather poor international co-production indeed. I see someone else (Bill C) has posted that it was “Beckett” (a better film to be sure) but, I and a lady friend were there, and it was sadly, “War and Peace” that ended this great Dream Palaces days (perhaps they may have screened several titles over different sessions on that day ~ maybe someone can clarify, and ease the confusion….?)

After the feature there were cheers and tears as a special Thr Tag was screened ~ “Thanking patrons for their years of support” ~ at the same time Streamers (and also Balloons I recall) were dropped from the ceiling.

A sad night for the Grand Days of Cinema. Pity about ‘War and Peace’ ~ maybe the sound vers of “Ten Commandments” could have been a better contender…considering it was the Silent vers that opened this fine Thr 41 yrs earlier,on the 5th of December 1924. But, even so, was good to share in the memory! K…………..

KenR on September 1, 2012 at 1:23 am

Johngleeson writes about a huge VistaVision Screen being installed into the Prince Edward. My understanding was that all films shot in ‘true VistaVision’ were screened in Australia on 35mm reduction prints with a 1.85 ratio ~ Indeed, the prints we screened in G.U.O. Theatres were all 35mm thick frame line reduction copies. At times, we would get the prints that were screened at The Edward and all were 35mm 1.85 W/S. Nor at any time did I see any ‘true VistaVision’ prints at Paramount Dispatch. Is this a miss-understanding by the comment poster? or for a short time, did The Edward (or any other Australian Theatre ever screen true V/V..?? (maybe a correction needed with this)

ColP on August 26, 2013 at 12:00 am

Around 1945 – 1947 my mum took me to see my Grandfather, Alfred O'Brien who was the band leader, and my mum’s dad, at the Prince Edward. I was 5 to 7 years old at the time. I guess we saw a movie as well, but whatever it was, I cannot recall. The theatre was amazing to me at that age, with it’s marble circular staircase and the giant chandelier. And when grandpa came into view with the band playing on the elevator floor in front of the stage, I was very excited. I believe that Alfred O'Brien was one of the founding members of the Musician’s Union of Australia, and he was also a very good bike rider. He won a race called the Sydney 1000.Don’t know the year. Believe the prize was a thousand pounds? Would love to hear from anyone who may have known Alfred O'Brien at the Prince Edward.

Glee on March 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I am hoping to find any one that has photo’s from 1958 to 1960. I was Usherette, Stand girl,(Dressed in white ball gown Tiara etc) & Cashier. I have lost all my photo’s of the girls & would dearly love to see them again & any with myself in them. Along time ago but wonderful memories. Glee (Glennis)

johngleeson on May 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

VISTAVISION Some clarity from the Widescreen Museum. Curator Martin Hart wrote “the first concept of VistaVision called for standard 35mm prints”. Some films were shown in 8 perf horizontal mode in limited runs. Paramount’s preferred ratio was 1.66:1 but it was possible to make 35mm 4 perf anamorphic prints of 2.00:1 however the vast majority were 35mm prints. Hart says with Technicolor dye prints made from the large Eastman neg, VistaVision provided an extremely sharp image with beautifully saturated colors. Ken is correct about only 35mm prints shown in Sydney, beginning with White Christmas.

Elzbet on April 26, 2015 at 8:58 pm

No mention seems to be made about the wonderful arcade under The Prince Edward Theatre. I can remember descending steps from Elizabeth Street, passing through a, beautifully cool in summer, arcade which took me out into Castlereagh Street. Does anyone else remember that arcade? Why are there no photos of it?


Jennifergayle on December 27, 2015 at 12:23 am

Perhaps it’s Christmas that has caused the reflection but thought of my mother’s fall because of the water splashing onto the surrounding floor and the ensuing legal challenge. Which she lost. Wouldn’t have happened in today’s world. (Note the fountain’s not overflowing to the surrounds in the pic.)

npalmer on May 27, 2016 at 11:29 pm

In the mid 80’s a book was published called ‘A Pictorial History of Sydney’s Prince Edward Theatre Beautiful’ by Barry Sharp. Probably long out of print but the ISBN number as printed in the book is 0 9594252 2 5.

rivest266 on July 14, 2016 at 10:54 am

This opened on November 22nd, 1924. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section for this cinema.

davidcoppock on February 9, 2017 at 1:07 am

“How did they get the plane inside the theatre?”

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