Town Hall / Princess Theatre
The beginnings of moving pictures in Hastings began in 1880 at the Princess Theatre (or Town Hall). it was built in 1880 at a cost of 900 pounds (130,000 in todays terms) it was funded by a number of Hastings residents. It was situated between Nelson Street and King Streets on the South side of what was called Havelock Omahu Road (now Heretaunga Street West) In 1892 the Town Hall wa renamed the Princess Theatre. In 1897 George Ellis bought the Princess Theatre.
He ade alterations so it will be more suitable for traveling vaudeville artists. The first kinematograph arrived ther was a rush to see these early moving pictures.
The king’s Theatre which was owned by the Hastings Permanent Picture Company
Ltd. Was opened on 18 July 1910; it was Hastings’s first purpose built theatre for exclusively showing moving pictures. The Directors wee JD Rivers, Frederick Hartshorn, and R Sorenson who was the Manager.
Kings Theatre was situated in Karamu Road, it seated 736 and prices were 1 shilling & sixpence.
The Municipal Theatre
The Hastings Munuicipal Theatre was built in 1915 at a cost of 15000 pounds (1.5 million dollars in todays terms.) The spanish mission style buildding was designed by Eli White. The Theatre was built with a Biograph (Projection box) in the Gods.
The hastings Municipal Theatre was completed on the 11 October 1915. One tender was received for the showing of moving pictures for the Hastings Municipal Theatre that was from William McCormick. 20% of all taking were to go to the Council for the Theatre hireage.
The first custodian of the theatre was Thomas Scott. Movies were charge at 1 shilling and sixpence for the dress circle, 1 shilling for the stalls and sixpence for the gods. The first film shown was "The jockey of death" The revenue received from the moving pictures would reduce the amount of rates that the Hastings residents had to pay. The showing of miving pictures by William McCormack came to an end in March 1916. It was bought buy the Council for 125 pounds 15 shillings. Phil Murdoch was appointed as Manager / Pprojectionist.
Talkies were introduce d to the Municipal Theatre on 24 March 1930 when the "Coconuts" with the Marx Brothers was screened. Divorcee was the last film to be shown before the 1931 Earthquake. The next movie didn't screen to February 1932 "The sin of Madelon Claudet"
for more information see "The Reel Story by Michael Fowler"