Tuesday, December 22, 2020

What pictures we see

It occurs to me that film - the financing of, directing of, acting in - doesn't happen unless there's a paying audience and, to this end, I sought to discover the state of cinema.

Screen Australia tells us, surprisingly

 The number of cinema screens in Australia has risen more than 150 per cent between 1980 and 2019, from 829 to 2,310.

After a dip in the eighties there was a surge. So much for postulating on the effect of movies being shown online and on subscription TV services. People will pay to go and see the latest blockbuster, a classic or a cult double feature, just as they have for more than a century.

Yes, I wanted to trace the historyFilm far predates television in Australia. 

I think the first feature film ever was Story of the Kelly Gang in 1906. Forty three years later, complaining about its late arrival compared to the UK and US, came the 'idiot box', hoping it would be like the ABC but with the caveat that there must be commercial choices as well.

 Australia's first cinema the Salon Lumière at 237 Pitt Street Sydney, was operating in October 1896, and showed the first Australian produced short film on the 27th October 1896.

The drive-in, it almost goes without saying, played a very important part in Australian culture. The usual format was a newsreel, a cartoon and two feature films with intermission where you could go to the canteen for choc tops. 

Again the chronology surprises, "the first drive-in theater" appearing five years after television.


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