Te Puke’s historic art deco cinema

1:47 PM Friday November 24, 2017 True Commercial

Te Puke’s landmark Capitol Cinema has four theatres with a capacity for 413 viewers. Photo / Supplied

An historic art deco cinema is for sale in Te Puke after almost 90 years’ operation – along with two other commercial tenancies encompassed within the property.

Bayleys Tauranga salesperson Brendon Bradley says the Capitol Cinema is on the short list of historic New Zealand movie houses of similar vintage.

He compares it to Auckland’s Victoria and Hollywood theatres; The Majestic in Taihape; the Regent in Te Awamutu; The Dome in Gisborne and The Roxy in Wellington.

Now the freehold land, buildings and going-concern Capitol Cinema business is for sale — with offers closing November 30.

Bradley says that combined, the cinema and two other properties for sale at 127-133 Jellico St comprise 1354sq m on 1079sq m of land.

They are featured in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine.

“The cinematic business comes with a comprehensive list of chattels, including projectors and screens, commercial-grade air conditioning units and all office equipment,” says Bradley.

He says the Capitol has been a Te Puke landmark for generations — most recently known for its cinematic business.

By keeping abreast of technological evolution in the global industry, and leading movie-goer viewing habits, it has remained a profitable entity at a time when similar operations in the big cities have wavered.

The Capitol Cinema has the largest mega screen movie complex in the Bay of Plenty, as well as both digital and 3D technology.

“What an amazing business it has been  — beginning operations in the Great Slump of 1929 when ‘talkies’ were still quite new,” says Bradley.

True Commercial - Capitol Cinema%2c Te Puke - frontage.jpg

The historic art-deco cinema at 127-133 Jellico St, Te Puke, is for sale with two other commercial tenancies. Photo / Supplied

But The Depression apparently never dented the Capitol’s success, because:

  • in 1954 it became was first New Zealand cinema to be adapted to “cinemascope” wide-screen movies;
  • in 2003 it was among the first cinemas in the world to screen Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King,when it rolled the film at one minute after midnight;
  • two years later the Capitol was among the first venues in the world to screen Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, again screened at one minute after midnight;
  • in 2009, the installation of a 3D system meant the theatre was the only one of its kind outside of Auckland to use the technology; and
  • today the Capitol’s four theatres range in capacity from a boutique 20-seater venue, up to the block-buster 200-seater playhouse. In total, four cinemas have capacity for 413 viewers.

Over the decades the Capitol became known as one of New Zealand’s most innovative cinema operations, says Bradley.

“In 1930 – when the Capitol screened its first “talkie” movie – the cinema had what was believed to be the tallest movie screen in the Southern Hemisphere.

“A large doorway on one side of the stage enabled travelling circus elephants to enter for their live shows which were hugely popular among the population during the 30s and 340s.

“The Capitol was used for local fundraising events, and in 1931 a Monster Earthquake Relief Concert was held to raise money for the disaster-struck residents of Hawke’s Bay.

“In 1945, a Victory Ball for VJ (Victory in Japan) Day was held at the Capitol, where scores of soldiers from the Eastern Bay of Plenty were officially welcomed home by the community.

“In 1947, more than 800 people from across the region packed into the Capitol to present “tokens of appreciation” to some 174 returned servicemen and women.

Each “token of appreciation” was an envelope containing £17.”

Since Day One, the Capitol has been at the centre of Te Puke’s social scene.

The Te Puke Boxing Association has used the venue to stage bouts; the RSA has held its debutante balls there; and the theatre has hosted fundraising dances and musical concerts for the Memorial Hall.

Bradley says the commercially-zoned Jellicoe St block for sale includes two commercial tenancies:

  • Dairy and grocery store operator Mayfair Ice Cream Parlour is on a lease expiring next year with two further three-year rights of renewal, occupying a 160sq m shop which generates annual rent of $20,350.
  • A horticultural contracting business Dosanjh Horticulture is on a lease expiring in 2020, with a further three-year right of renewal, occupying a 60sq m office space which generates annual rental of $11,000.