Staff overwhelmed as Bums on Seats campaign rescues Bendigo icon Star Cinema from brink of closure

The generosity of moviegoers has rescued Eaglehawk’s beleaguered Star Cinema from the brink of closure, in what staff have called “a victory for community organisations”. 

Two months after a public cry for help, the cinema yesterday announced its Bums on Seats campaign raised more than $70,000 from box office takings, membership sales and donations. 

A five-figure donation from an anonymous white knight also helped the cinema more than double its $30,000 fundraising target.  

Business manager Martin Myles, who said “things were looking very dicey” before the campaign, was overwhelmed at the response. 

“We were really nervous, there was a lot at stake,” he said. The cinema employs five staff, three of them full time. 

“That's all turned around fabulously now.”

Mr Myles said the campaign’s success was proof the iconic and unique venue was loved by its patrons.  

“It’s a very respected and valued institution, because no one else does what we do,” he said.  

The Star’s closure would have left fans of independent and foreign films, overlooked by mainstream multiplexes, no option but to travel to Melbourne for the movies.

The cinema’s staff and board would now turn their attention to ensuring never again faced such dire circumstances. 

“We are quite keen to avoid going down the desperate line again,” Mr Myles said. 

“We will be discussing a strategic plan to make sure we are in the forefront of people's minds.”

He mooted an annual membership drive, similar to those run by community radio stations, as one way to keep the cinema afloat. 

The Star’s flirtation with financial uncertainty was a warning that even well-loved or long-lasting Bendigo icons could not exist without patronage from the public, he said.