Hoyts Esquire Theatre
238 Bourke Street,
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Previously operated by: Hoyts Theatres
Architects: William Pitt, H. Vivian Taylor
Firms: H. Vivian Taylor, Soilleux & Overend
Previous Names: Hoyts De Luxe Theatre
News About This Theater
- Mar 2, 2010 — Happy 45th, "The Sound Of Music"
Built on the site of the St. George’s Hall which had become Hoyts Picture Theatre in 1912. The Hoyts De Luxe Theatre opened on 27th March 1915 and only showed films, and like many other Melbourne Cinemas had a Wurlitzer organ. The architect was William Pitt. The lobby had a floor of mosaic tiles and the walls to a height of 8 feet were covered in silver-blue tiles. A marble staircase leads up to the Dress Circle foyer. The auditorium walls had a 10 foot high golden brown tiled dado, relieved with cream and blue inlaid panels. The upper part of these walls featured hand painted panels of simple landscapes. These were covered over in 1934 when the auditorium was modernised to the plans of architectural firm H. Vivian Taylor, Soilleux and Overend.
The theatre was re-named Hoyts Esquire Theatre from 1946. The cinema’s policy was changed in 1957 with the movie, “Around the World in 80 Days”, and among the other classic films screened were “South Pacific”, “Can Can”, “West Side Story”, “Tom Jones”, “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” and “The Graduate”.
It closed on 31st March 1976 and the interior was gutted with the façade covered over. The seating was quoted when it opened as 2,200 but this seems most unlikely with around 1,500 more believable. It seated 1,125 when it closed. The chandelier that used to hang in the lobby is now hanging in the foyer of the Regent Theatre in Ballarat.
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Recent comments (view all 6 comments)
The Esquire was actually GUTTED to create further retail space for the adjacent department store. It has since been rebuilt at street level into an aracde/food-court. The original “Hoyts (Deluxe) Pictures” facade remains in all its glory, hidden behind a 1976 false street frontage. The facades original double arched windows – complete with “Hoyts Pictures” in cement render on the central column are still there, waiting to be re-discovered by a new generation of cinema archeologists… one day!
The Deluxe/Esquire was built on the site of the original St.Georges Hall – the birthplace of “Hoyts Theatres”. Next door was Melbourne’s historic THEATRE ROYAL, a live venue which closed in 1934 and was demolished for – you guessed it – more retail space!
The Esquire was a 70mm house and when i worked there they had just finished a 3 to 4 year run of the sound of music it also showed films like the graduate, tora, MASH, the lion in winter 70mm wit a mono track spread over the 5 stage channels. The Projectors were Phillips DP70 with ashcraft lamphouse using 13.6mm black carbons and drawing 135 amps the seating cap was around 1800 in those days, but did have a larger seating cap before then. it was the only cinema that i knew of that had a spre screen rolled up and sat next to the stage. it was supposed to be used for a special show but never got used. she was a fantasict of cinema. shame coles got there hands on it
The Esquire Theatre screened “The Sound Of Music” for 9 months. It was transferred from the Paris Theatre after 139 weeks. “Tora Tora Tora” never screened at the Esquire Theatre. The seating capacity at this time was close to 1200.
I am trying to find the name of the owners of the ‘Esquire Theatre’ Melbourne, so I can try and contact living relatives regarding some research. Appreciate your assistance.
In my younger days the Esquire theatre along with the Lyceum theatre across the street were somewhat seedy. When it was upgraded it was a great theatre with a 70 mm screen and opened with “Around the World in 80 Days. The one that lasted 3 years at the Esquire was "South Pacific”. When it finally closed some patrons said they had seen it 60 times. It was then followed by “West Side Story” that I had waited for impatiently. The Lyceum was refurbished for the presentation of “Cleopatra” which was not as bad as everyone had been led to believe.
July 1970 photo added via Johnny Riley.