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Whangamatā theatre reopens as Edisons wedding and events venue

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >

Edisons in the old Whangamatā Cinema celebrated its opening on January 27.

Cinema Lane celebrated the official opening of Edisons last weekend, a wedding and events venue nestled within the historic walls of the old iconic Whangamatā Cinema.

Before its present role as the community cinema, the building was Hunt’s Beach Cabaret and operated as a dance hall. In 1967, Whangamatā Amusements Ltd was permitted by the Thames County Council to screen movies on Sunday, on condition that they were G rated and did not clash with local church services.

Thames-Coromandel District Council had previously considered designating the bright-pink building for its architecture in the post-war development of Whangamatā as a holiday town. Still, it is not a historic listed building.

The Whangamata theatre and longtime owner Ron Slater pictured in the HC Post in 2021.
The Whangamata theatre and longtime owner Ron Slater pictured in the HC Post in 2021.

Laura Priestly and her husband, Andrew, bought the building in 2021, and Priestly said the previous owner, Ron, sold them the building but not the business.

“We wanted him to continue to run it as a cinema for one last summer, but once the sale went through, he was ready to move on,” Priestly said.

“There is a lot of competition in the movie industry nowadays… [so] when it came to restoring the building, we knew it wasn’t financially feasible to run it as a movie theatre, but it was important for the building to remain as a space to be loved and used by the community. The architecture was quirky, old Coromandel bach-like with a sense of art deco from the era of cinema, and a lot of Ron’s character, like the pink facade and vintage wallpapers.”

After its renovation, Edisons now stands as a bespoke venue for private parties, weddings, photoshoots, film viewings, conferences, theatre, comedy nights and any other event worthy of celebration.

The evening had a great turnout.
The evening had a great turnout.

Every aspect of the space has been curated to create a distinct ambience that pays homage to the building’s heritage while offering a versatile canvas. The subtle art deco influence adds a touch of elegance, and the minimalist design allows the freedom to personalise the space.

“In terms of the transformation of the building, we tried to renovate as sympathetically as possible, keeping the character features that could be restored, introducing ‘found’ pieces that evoked nostalgia while creating modern new spaces that take Cinema Lane into its new lease of life,” said Priestly.

“We want Edisons to become a space where people can create new memories in a space which holds memories for so many generations before.”

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