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Saving our cinemas

Strand Cinema Caloundra owner Luke Warburton. Image: Warren Lynam


Saving our cinemas

Caloundra’s film lovers can once again get a ticket and some popcorn at the beloved Strand movie theatre. WORDS: Shirley Sinclair

Movies will once again grace the big screen in Caloundra, courtesy of a young man with experience from the candy bar to management.

This will be welcome news to the community as the closure of the local favourite earlier this year caused a public outcry. Movies had shown in the tourist town’s main street since 1931.

The person behind the revival is Luke Warburton and he aims to reopen the doors of the rebranded Strand Cinema Caloundra this month, taking the rundown picture theatre and revamping it into a much-loved community asset.

“From the very get-go, we have to bring something new, exciting, fresh for the customers to return,” he says. “We wanted to open with a fresh look, so we’ve got the new logo coming, new website, all new ticketing system. It’s all happening.

“In this cinema alone, we’re doing all new lighting, all new curtains, all new surround sound, all new screens. Everything in here will be new except for the carpet and the chairs. In the other cinemas, all new screens, all new speakers, painting.

“Probably after Easter next year, we’ll put in the order for seats.”

The former Big Screen Cinemas has been closed from July 22 temporarily, due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

The refurbishment work on the five-cinema, 500-capacity venue began on October 22 with rubbish removal and electrical work. Painting started on October 28.

With the revamped Strand Cinema Caloundra, Mr Warburton says he is committed to creating a high-quality movie experience, with great customer service that is value for money and will see customers return. The popular $10 one-price-ticket-for-all will remain – this is less than half the price of some general admission movie tickets for latest releases elsewhere.

He says patrons won’t need “to take out a home loan” to afford candy bar prices either, starting with popcorn from $3. He adds the movie schedule for 2022 is “absolutely packed” after COVID pushed back the release of many titles in 2021, creating a Christmas school holidays movie bonanza.

The 30-year-old, who also owns The Bribie Cinema, is first and foremost a movie fan and has spent most of his working life beneath the big screen.

“I worked in cinema as a teenager,” Mr Warburton says. “I started from the bottom: candy bar, projection, Gold lounge and management towards the end down in Sydney for the Reading Group. Then I worked on the Gold Coast for a couple of years at [Reading Cinemas] Harbourtown while I also did five years in radio.”

Strand Cinema Caloundra will open Wednesday night, November 24, with the latest blockbuster from the Marvel franchise, Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
At least two cinemas will operate from November 25, with two more opening the following week before the school holidays.


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