History of Victa Cinema
November 24, 1923: The Victa Cinema began operation, then known as the Victor Theatre. The theatre was under the control of Griffin Pictures, who had previously shown films at the Victor Harbor Institute. The first two feature films to be shown were The Bohemian Girl and Mord Em'ly.
1926: Managment changed and the control of the theatre went to National Theatres who were also responsible for managing the Wonderview, also located in Victor Harbor.
1928: National Theatres went into liquidation and Ozone Theatres Limited took over the management of the theatre. Under this new management, the Victor Theatre was renovated throughout, with the addition of a dress circle, the seating capacity went from 650 seats to a total of 1000 seats.
November 1930: Sound was introduced to film, and Victor Theatre was quick to adapt, making sound available to its patrons with the installation of a Western Electric sound system, costing £3000. This saw the theatre increase its sessions to a nightly basis.
January 14, 1931: A severe fire destroyed part of the theatre to the value of £3000 (roughly $250 000 in today's money). The theatre was forced to close it's doors whilst renovations and alterations were implemented.
December 21, 1934: A grand reopening of the Victor Theatre took place.
1951: Hoyts purchased the Victor Theatre as part of a deal with Ozone.
1959: The introduction of television saw attendance to the Victor Theatre dwindle, causing the cancellation of its Monday and Tuesday screenings.
1960: Screenings were only occurring on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. During school holiday periods the cinema held screenings every night, however by 1962 the cinema screened a matinee and evening session on Saturdays only.
1963: The decline of the cinema continued causing its closure between October 13 and December 25. Even in 1964 the cinema closed longer term for the winter months starting straight after Anzac Day until December 25.
1970: Hoyts sold the cinema for $25,000 to new owner Roy Denison and was reopened under his control renaming it the Victa Theatre for the 1970/71 Christmas school holidays. The cinema committed itself to running Friday, Saturday and Sunday screenings over the following 4 year period. Furthermore, the cinema held screenings during each school holidays up until 1995.
September 1995: Geoff Stock purchased the Victa Theatre with an ambition to restore the complex to its former glory.
1996: The process began with repairs and painting of the exterior and renaming it 'Victa Cinema'. The foyer was then restored with removal of curtains, repairs to walls, painting and replacement of the art deco light fittings.
1997: Saw the upgrade to the projection room which included the installation of a platter and Dolby Digital Sound system.
August 1998: Renovation of the auditorium was a major project with the decision of converting the single screen theatre to a twin cinema due to large competition arising from newly built high profile Multiplexes. Consequently, the theatre closed for its conversion in August, with it reopening only a month later on September 11 in the upstairs area with seating of 286. The downstairs auditorium was later completed and opened on November 6, 1998 with seating of 297. The complete restoration included seats being re-upholstered and re-carpeting of the foyer area.
February 2005: David and Carol Stonnill purchased the cinema from the Stock family, with the intention of preserving and maintaining the beautiful art deco building, and where possible improving the facilities for the comfort of patrons.
2007: Work was commenced to install full reverse-cycle airconditioning, to replace the old and struggling evaporative airconditioning. This proved to be a bigger task than first thought, thanks to the age of the building and the size of the ground floor auditorium. However the upgrade was finally completed in early 2008
2008: The next project was to upgrade the seating of both auditoriums, replacing the old flip down seats with newer, larger and more modern seating.
2009: An eCinema digital projector was installed in the ground floor cinema, allowing a little more flexibility in providing limited content not available on 35mm film.
November 2012: Both cinemas were upgraded to 2k digital projection, ending the use of 35mm film at Victa Cinemas. This offers a brighter, sharper image and no deterioration over time.
A new 'Silver Screen' was also installed in Cinema 2, to replace the old deteriorating screen. Cinema 1 (upstairs) still retains its 35mm Projector and platter system, allowing it to still screen 35mm film, if needed.
July 2015: 3D equipment was installed in July 2015 in Cinema 2, now allowing Victa Cinemas to screen 3D films. The first films to screen in 3D were Jurassic World and Inside Out. The installation was completed in time for the winter holidays and proved to be popular with the patrons, both young and old.
January 2016: The cinema was given a face lift with a new coat of paint, using colours which return it to its heritage style, and the addition of new high quality signage.
October 2020: The City of Victor Harbor purchased the Victa Cinemas building and business with big plans in mind, with it to be included in the citys Arts Precinct in the future.
Today, patrons of the Victa Cinemas enjoy the style and charm of the original theatre and have a greater variety in the movies that are shown. The Victa Cinema is a popular attraction in its own right and maintains the historical charm of Victor Harbor's bygone era.
Have you got any old photos of Victa Cinema through the years? We would love to see them! Send us a message via the Contact page if you'd like to share your photographs.