WITH espresso, cheese platters and baguettes on offer at the ticket box, seats with wine-bottle holders and a Prosecco bar in the middle of it all, the new Palace Electric Cinema promises not to be your typical movie experience.
“WE’RE not a ‘popcorn-and-Coke’ kind of movie theatre”, says Cinema general manager Lavanna Neal.
“We certainly focus more on the entire experience when you’re at the cinema, from the second you walk in.”
The eight-theatre, $5 million cinema, just opened in the ground floor of the Nishi Building, NewActon, will specialise in foreign and art-house films.
Lavanna hopes it will “fill the gap” the long-gone Electric Shadows cinemas left behind.
“The smallest theatre seats 68 and the largest is 193, so there’s a wide range of capacities, which means we can show a lot more films,” she says.
“We will be featuring film festivals, which will be a huge part of our lives. I think we’re a bit different because this is a family-owned business and [owner and founder] Antonio Zeccola is always closely involved.”
With 20 Palace cinemas around the nation, and as the largest independent movie exhibitor, Lavanna says Canberra had the “right demographic” for the business.
“I think it will fit in well with the demographics in Canberra, they’re younger and more affluent than other capital cities in Australia, they’re culturally aware and they’re interested in interesting cultural films,” she says.
Moviegoers will have access to cafe facilities, lounge seating, and the Prosecco bar, offering a range of cocktails and wine.
“We wanted this to be a place where people can actually stay and socialise, not just a place where you see the movie and go,” says Lavanna.
But for the old fashioned movie-goer, the cinema does offer the traditional popcorn and choc-tops – they’re just gourmet, says Lavanna.
“We make our own hand-made, connoisseur, gourmet choc-tops, and we pop our popcorn with extra virgin olive oil, not with hydrogenated fat – it tastes a lot lighter and you don’t feel greasy,” she says.
Lavanna, who moved from Melbourne when she landed the job in Canberra, says she “hasn’t regretted it for a minute”.
“I really don’t see why people bag Canberra,” she says.
“With areas like NewActon, there’s just so much happening and it’s really becoming such an exciting precinct, a hub of activity.”