Cinema's world record threatened

REEL LIFE: Doug Dance has been showing films at the Roxburgh Entertainment Centre since 1954, starting as a 13-year-old assistant projectionist.
REEL LIFE: Doug Dance has been showing films at the Roxburgh Entertainment Centre since 1954, starting as a 13-year-old assistant projectionist.

The digital era of film is threatening a Central Otago cinema's chance of holding a Guinness Book of Records title.

The Teviot Valley Community Board will consider a funding request at its meeting next week to help contribute towards the $100,000 needed for new digital equipment to replace the obsolete projectors in the Roxburgh Entertainment Centre.

Roxburgh Entertainment Centre Improvement and Promotions Inc secretary and treasurer Gaynor Crabbe said in a letter to the board it was unable to screen up-to-date releases in the theatre until the digital equipment could be installed.

"This is quite a threat to our application to the Guinness Book of Records as the Longest Continuous Running Cinema on the same location, in the world. Should we succeed with this application, it will bring much notoriety, not only to Roxburgh but for the whole of Central Otago. We just cannot afford to be caught as non-functional should we be granted this new title," she said.

The social aspect of the theatre to the community, especially the young people, was also threatened.

"Up to a hundred children can attend a blockbuster animated film; this can occur several times a year. The school has a movie for junior school breakups. We as volunteers are proud and feel duty bound to provide somewhere to go, with their friends on a Saturday or Sunday for these rural kids. Right now it is not possible." Doug Dance said he had been showing movies at the cinema since 1954, when he started as a 13-year-old assistant projectionist.

While the projectors still sat in the same spot as they did when they were showing films in 1897, technology had finally caught up with the cinema.

"They have stopped making 35mm prints and we have not got the technology to run the movies. To keep us going, we have got to be able to show digital movies."

People came from across the region to enjoy the big-screen movie experience at the Entertainment Centre - which had undergone a $1.1 million development in 1996.

"It is quite a unique cinema. We have had quite a few big movies here - including two New Zealand premieres.

The red carpet had been rolled out when In My Father's Den - which was filmed in the area - held its premiere in the town, he said.

A newspaper advertisement sourced from the Hocken Library shows films have been showing in the cinema since at least December 1897.

The current verified record is held by a theatre in France that had been showing films at the same location since 1906, he said.

As part of the funding request for $2700 the committee was also seeking a waiver of the theatre's hire while fundraising for the equipment was ongoing.

The Central Otago District Council owns the entertainment centre and the committee provides assistance in managing the facility.

The Southland Times