Plaza Theatre

600 George Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000

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Plaza Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Hoyts Plaza Theatre in Sydney was the original quintessential “Spanish” styled theatre. It was famous in the old days as a picture palace complete with an English built Christie theatre organ and a full orchestra on an elevated platform. Many big films opened here, the first being Cecil B. DeMille’s production of “Dynamite” which starred Conrad Nagel and opened the Plaza on 9th May 1930. The original plan was for a 4,000 seater, but the stock market crash of 1929 was to see those plans go out the window.

In September 1958, the Plaza Theatre was refurbished for Cinerama and the screen at that time was the largest in Australia for an indoor cinema.

All big 70mm blockbusters from Fox, MGM, United Artists, etc., were shown here from March 1965 onwards. The screen dimensions were 75ft x35ft.

The Plaza Theatre was closed in June 1977 and used for a time as both skating rink and restaurant. A Heritage order prevented its demolition until 1995, when Planet Hollywood removed the remainder of the auditorium’s decoration. The foyer is intact and is used as a McDonalds restaurant. Planet Hollywood only lasted a short while, and today the auditorium has been ‘twinned’ with the Plaza Restauraunt operating in the upper half.

Contributed by Ian Hanson

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Rogere
Rogere on January 6, 2010 at 5:44 am

It had poles inside the cinema holding up the ceiling luckily I never had to sit behind one.

AnthonyMe
AnthonyMe on January 6, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Hi Cinemamad — it had poles, but I don’t recall any obstructed views.

Rogere
Rogere on January 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm

This was not one of my favourite Cinemas but when I visit Sydney often eat there it makes a much better McDonalds Restaurant.

paulsp
paulsp on October 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Loved this theatre when it was a showcase of Cinerama, have very faint memories of “How the West was Won” in 3 strip format which for a very young boy was awesome!! I’m glad at least some of the interior is still there and the exterior is just great, the younger generation have no idea what going “to the pictures” was like in the 50’s and 60’s in those fantastic movie palaces – most of todays movie houses are unbelievably depressing, cheap and nasty!

Mark747
Mark747 on November 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Early photo of Plaza neon sign being erected:
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1962 exterior photo of the crowds attending Cinerama presentation:
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1966 exterior photo with Cinerama signage:
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iatse311
iatse311 on January 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

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mcdonalds plaza lobby…best looking mcdonalds i’ve ever been in

johngleeson
johngleeson on May 29, 2012 at 7:42 am

BEFORE THE PLAZA The site was home to several theatres, beginning with the Atheneum Hall which opened in 1907. It was renamed the Oxford Theatre for live events in 1908 and then the Colonial, a 1200 seat theatre in 1910 which showed films. Hoyts took over in 1917 with the name DeLuxe. See photo section for the DeLuxe. The Plaza opened on April 11, 1930 with “Dynamite” Demille’s first talkie. The Sydney Morning Herald reported “Mr. Eddie Fitch, formerly of the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, has been engaged as organist for Hoyts' new Plaza Theatre. Mr. Fitch came to Australia last year and has been acting as organist at Hoyts Regent Theatres in Melbourne and Brisbane.”

brucek
brucek on January 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I saw the original three-way-split Cinerama “demo” film here….lots of exciting stuff such as a roller-coaster ride, the U.S. Navy’s “Blue Angels ” flight team and so forth. It was really an introduction to Cinerama.

Then I saw every Cinerama film that came to Sydney, including “Grand Prix” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”. I think “Alien” was also screened here.

Great memories!

fishy1
fishy1 on February 1, 2014 at 3:28 am

Worked at the Plaza 1968-70 as assistant to the chief operator. The plaza had the proscenium of its predecessor theatre, behind the cinerama screen. The theatre had very ornate ceilings that were hand painted with stars, moons and the like. The ceiling was not held up with poles. At the rear of the auditorium was the two entrances from the foyer.The bain entry was from the north side of the foyer. the second was facing the street and was only used to empty the theatre at the conclusion of the program.

The original bio box was in the elevated rear wall of the auditorium.Above the entrance. When redeveloped for Cinerama, three bioboxes were added to the auditorium. Able, Baker and charlie.The old room became the sound booth for the system and was accessed from the ladder behind able booth on the north side of the theatre. It also served as the file room for Hoyts Ltd head office.

The Original Cinerama screen was patented and was in three parts to match the projector booths. The two side screens were multiple 1" slats that could be remotely re-aligned to eliminate cross reflection. The centre screen was a single square sheet.

In front of Baker booth (in the centre) was the chief operators console. From here the operator could monitor and adjust each projector, to ensure that they kept in step with each other.

When I started at the Plaza they Had already shifted to the new single lense Cinerama format. As such they shifted into 70mm, Cinemeccanica 10s and after about 18 months changed from carbon arcs to Zenon Arc Lamps as a light source. As the original Cinerama screen was patented, a new single sheet had to be installed and yes as you guessed to pull it around a curve created a belly in the middle of the sheet and thus a slight distortion of the image.

At this time Hoyts had a number of theatres in the city. The Regent, George Street. The Century, George Street. The Palace, Pitt Street. The Paris, Liverpool Street. The Town, Pitt Street. The Mayfair and The Embassy, Pitt Street.

All these theatres were replaced with the Hoyts Cinema Complex opposite the Plaza in George Street.

thornhill0
thornhill0 on July 10, 2014 at 3:29 am

I seem to remember the Plaza had a brief period as something like Maxy’s Diner/New York Diner… something like that. It was open 24 hours, and it didn’t last long. It would be sometime in the 1980s. Does anyone have any information? Many thanks.

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