Opening of Berkeley Botany Downs Cinema Complex

  • Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Thank you for inviting me here tonight to open the Berkeley Cinema Group’s new cinema complex here in Botany Downs.

It is amazing to see the development which has taken place here at Botany Downs. It wasn’t so long ago that this area was still in paddocks. Then 5 ½ years ago, the Botany Downs town centre project got resource consent. That led to the development of the modern retail complex complete with major brand stores, cafes, and bars, and now, with tonight’s opening, a brand new cinema complex.

This complex is at the forefront of cinema design, catering to a wide range of movie-goers. It’s interesting to reflect on how much cinemas have changed!

The first movie New Zealanders paid to see was shown at the Auckland Opera House in 1896. The audience cheered the series of one minute long shorts, including footage of a moving train, sea-bathers, a merry-go-round, dancing girls, and London streets.

In 1910, New Zealand’s first purpose-built picture theatre, the King’s Theatre in Wellington, was opened.

By 1917, over 550,000 New Zealanders were going to the movies every week. In 1940, out of a population of 1.5 million, over 31 million movie tickets were sold. That was, after all, the pre-television age!

Cinemas were often large and ornate. The queen of New Zealand’s cinemas was Auckland’s Civic Theatre, still beautifully preserved with its night sky ceiling, and the plaster décor inspired by the Indian Raj.

In recent years, there’s been a quiet revolution going on in the design of new cinemas. Cinema complexes today must cater for a wide range of tastes and demands, as the industry evolves to compete with so many other forms of entertainment.

This complex has eight different cinemas, seating 1800 film-goers. One can also go to a café or restaurant, or shop for books or music. It also includes the ‘cinelounge’, a theatre with luxury seating, a full licence, and an appetiser menu.

Facilities like these are designed to ensure that we New Zealanders remain enthusiastic film-goers. A 2002 survey found that an estimated 801,000 New Zealanders had been to a film in the four-week survey period. Going to the movies remains very popular for younger people.

The changing nature of our larger cities does lead more people to seek entertainment locally. Many don’t want to travel long distances for a night out, which supports this type of development in a suburban hub.

With this complex able to show the range of movies – from the Hollywood epic to the art house cult film – we can also expect to see our own New Zealand movies in mainstream release.

The New Zealand film industry has had a high profile over the past few years, and we’ve all taken pride in the stunning creative and box-office successes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Whale Rider, and most recently, In my Father’s Den.

Barrie Everard is one of the partners in this development, and has also been a driving force in the production of New Zealand films as chair of the New Zealand Film Commission. I’d like to thank Barry for the contribution he has made, and is continuing to make to our film industry.

This joint venture between Everard Entertainment and the Reading Group is a wonderful addition to the Botany Downs centre. Congratulations to all those involved in financing, designing, developing, building, and servicing the Berkeley Cinemas Group’s new complex.

I have great pleasure in declaring Berkeley Botany Downs open.