Declining audience numbers have left the people behind Eaglehawk’s Star Cinema fearful they will have to one day shut the doors.
In a bid to ward off a sad ending to the iconic independent cinema’s story, staff and the committee of management have launched a ‘Bums on Seats’ campaigns, to attract more patrons.
The cinema’s business manager, Martin Myles, said they had seen a decline in audience numbers in recent months and income was no longer covering costs.
Mr Myles said the community-run, community-owned cinema was at genuine risk of closing.
To reverse the cinema’s fortunes, about $30,000 is needed within two months, so staff and volunteers hope to sell the equivalent of 1875 tickets in that time.
Mr Myles and committee of management chairwoman Fiona McMahon said Star Cinema offered movie-goers a unique experience.
“I think we are an integral part of the Bendigo’s art and cultural fabric, and we are well-loved,” Ms McMahon said.
Ms McMahon brought attention to the building in which the cinema was housed, the grand old Eaglehawk Town Hall, constructed early last century.
If it were not for the cinema, she said, the building would be underutilised or possibly left vacant.
Despite the proliferation of home viewing options, Mr Myles said the cinema experience was one that could not be replicated.
“It’s a shared experience,” he said.
Both he and Ms McMahon said Star Cinema was different to other cinemas, too, with its patrons able to view films from the comfort of couches and enjoy food and wine.
“It’s gold class at half price,” Ms McMahon said, urging people to bring friends, family or book Christmas parties at the cinema.
Star Cinema has existed for 17 years now and built up a base of loyal patrons, among them actor, voice talent and critic John Flaus.
Mr Flaus, a Castlemaine resident, said he only discovered the cinema a little over a year ago, but it would be a great loss if it were to close.
He credited independent cinema with giving vital support to some of the films he appeared in that went on to become Australian classics, such as Crackerjack, The Dish and The Castle.
Mr Flaus said going to the cinema was an emotional experience, shared with dozens of other people.
It also provided a life-enriching experience, Mr Flaus said, in that afterwards audience members were able to talk about what they had seen and felt on the screen with each other.
“What would be lost would be so much; not only the program, the films themselves, but the social aspect,” Mr Flaus said.
For information on what’s on, visit starcinema.org.au.