Reading Cinemas Queenstown cinema manager Bernie Mullin
(left) and Southland-Queenstown senior technician Brendon
Sparks, of Invercargill, began dismantling the three old
35mm film projectors in the Queenstown Mall complex as soon
as the final credits rolled last night. The projector
pictured is destined to be saved from being broken down for
spare parts, instead becoming a display piece in the
upgraded foyer. Photo by James Beech.
The digital and 3-D movie upgrade under way at Reading
Cinemas Queenstown marks the end of a century of film
projection in the resort.
The last picture show on ribbons of film taped together in
the cinema in Queenstown Mall was Kick-Ass 2 last
The complex will be closed to the public while Reading
dismantles the three bulky film projectors and huge platters,
the only way to get the decades-old equipment out of the
cramped projection room, for transport to a cinema in
A single projector will be saved for display in the revamped
foyer to commemorate the past.
The three-cinema complex will be made digitally 3-D and 2-D
capable one auditorium at a time.
It will reopen with its debut digital film White House
Down on Wednesday. All three cinemas will be digitally
refitted in time to present The Heat on Saturday,
which will be an R18 night at which glasses of Champagne and
soft drinks will offered to patrons to mark the occasion.
Cinema has been considered an important link to the outside
world for the once-isolated community of Queenstown since the
1860s, when lantern slides entertained the first settlers and
Lakes District Museum director David Clarke said the
''grandfather'' of movies in Queenstown was engineer Horace
Tompkies, who arrived in 1913.
''He was best known for the tourist launches that he ran on
Lake Wakatipu, but he also set up the town's first movie
theatre in Queenstown's original town hall in Ballarat St
[now Winnie's Gourmet Pizza Bar]'', he said.
''The first movies were silent, usually accompanied by a
pianist. When the technology changed and sound arrived,
Horace moved with the times and the theatre was
affectionately known as 'Tompkies' Talkies'.''
Mr Tompkies sold his theatre to George Cochrane. Mr Cochrane,
who later became Queenstown's mayor, installed an opening
roof, meaning on a warm summer's night a movie could be
watched while the stars shone above.