After more than one decade without a functioning cinema, Maryborough residents are about to welcome Hollywood back to their town.
Colac cinema owners Helen and Gerard White, who bought the Maryborough property at auction last December, are refurburshing the 91-year-old building they hope to re-open before Christmas.
The Nolan Street site will be equipped with two cinema screens, with the possibility of two smaller theatres opening at a later date.
“It's an integral part of the community, bringing the community together,” Mrs White said when asked about a cinema’s role in the life of a small town.
“It’s a social place for people to get together.”
Much like the Colac cinema they have run for 13 years, Mrs White anticipated the Maryborough facility would house fundraisers and other community events.
It would also mean a boost to the local economy, with the cinema expected to employ several workers. The Whites’ Colac cinema employed 14 locals.
The couple are the latest in a growing list of people who have staked a claim to the building, first opened in 1926.
At the time, the theatre sat more than 1000 patrons.
From the 1960s, the cinema belonged to the Maryborough Technical College, during which time the space was turned into an assembly hall.
It briefly saw new life as a cinema from 1996, but public screenings ceased again in the early 2000s.
“We've found some little bits of historic things during [the refurbishment], paper clippings and so forth that we’ve kept,” Mrs White said.
But other items, like the out-dated projectors, were making way for digital technology, a move that made it possible for more films to be shown.
It was the cinema’s most recent period of operation that Maryborough resident Anthony Eales remembers most.
The 31-year-old fondly recalled watching Will Smith film Independence Day in the 1990s and also said the owner’s cat would often appear at a screening.
Its closure left the self-described movie buff no choice but to travel to Ballarat or Bendigo for screenings of the latest releases, an exercise that did not come cheap.
“It’s probably about $20 to $30 in petrol and parking,” Mr Eales said about his treks to the two regional cities.
“You really have to plan a bit of your day because it can take five or six hours out of your day.”
Mrs White was looking forward to meeting patrons like Mr Eales for a long time to come.
“We hope it’s around for another 100 years yet, because it really is a vital part of the community,” she said.