- By Ellen Pullar, NZFA Publicist.
The King’s Theatre in Wellington was the first permanent and purpose-built movie theatre in New Zealand. It opened with much fanfare on 16 March 1910. Prior to the construction of customised movie theatres films had been screened in buildings built for stage productions, or other available and spacious venues such as adapted hotels and town halls – even old churches. A reporter for the Dominion recalled of an older Wellington theatre:
“His Majesty’s Theatre was not always a theatre. It was erected for the United Methodist Free Church and did faithful duty for many years. Then things happened and the church was converted into a music hall by Messrs Fuller and Sons and permanent vaudeville considerably altered its purpose in the world” (Dominion, 15 March 1910, p. 6).
This same church-cum-vaudeville-house was then leased to the Royal Picture Syndicate for film screenings. Given the venues that had been previously used for screenings, the opening of the new King’s Theatre was quite the exciting event, with the theatre being billed as “the most up-to-date picture theatre in Australasia” (Free Lance, 19 March 1910, p. 9).