And we’re rolling: Torquay Cinema proponent has independent ideas

August 8, 2019 BY

AN INDEPENDENT cinema could soon enliven vacant land on a prominent corner in Torquay if a commercial development proposal gets the green light from council.

News of a permit submitted by G2 Urban Planning on behalf of Baines Torquay broke last week, with residents leaping at the opportunity to share their mixed views on social media.

But despite divided feedback, particularly in response to the 7-Eleven service station and KFC outlet, the prospect of a cinema on 85 Geelong Road (corner of Surf Coast Highway and Grossmans Road) was supported by some locals.

The ocean cinema part of the proposed development is the brainchild of former Virgin Entertainment Group chief executive officer and Torquay local Simon Wright.

Mr Wright said the establishment of an independent cinema in Torquay could benefit the community’s performing arts scene if its largest auditorium – which is estimated to seat 200 people – was designed accordingly.

“I use the word independent, some people would like to use the word arthouse, but I think arthouse is too detached from reality,” he said.

“But independent cinema allows you to show everything from the major releases right through to films selected because people want to see them.”

He proposed creating a dual cinema and theatre – an all-encompassing space with a minimum of five auditoriums that would use community feedback to shape its “eclectic” film and entertainment program.

He also said the vacant block was the ideal and most viable location for its establishment as it’s the “gateway” to Torquay and neighbours many local schools.

“My idea was that outside of school holidays, the theatre would be available for local groups and schools,” Mr Wright said.

Working alongside Andrew Pannell from Hoyts Cinemas, Mr Wright said it was important to design a local cinema that reflected local choice.

“I’m a big lover of Torquay, I like the way that people live here – I think it’s fantastic,” he said.

“I’m ambitious in the sense that let’s doing something that’s very Torquay. Coming from Virgin, you listen to what people want. That’s been in my brain my whole career. I can see people have quite strong views in Torquay in what they don’t want.”

Mr Wright said the cinema would attempt to break away from the quintessential movie fare by using low-impact packaging and offering healthy alternatives.

He also put forward the idea of showcasing local artists in the cinema foyer as part of a rotational exhibition.

The Surf Coast Shire will not make a decision about the application until August 22.

To read all the planning documents, head to surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Property/Planning-and-Building/Planning.