Since 1937, Lorne Theatre has entertained locals and visitors along the Great Ocean Road. Its history reads like a script: a travelling picture show man runs out of funds and has his equipment purchased by locals who start running movies in a hall before deciding to build a resplendent picture palace. They combine sweat and skill to build a thing of beauty. An Art Deco theatre in the Moderne style, its symmetrical facade, parapet and iconic vertical sign open up to terrazzo floors, geometric ceiling panels, metal balustrading, lush carpets and an impressive 550 seat auditorium with mezzanine. Finally, the curtain opens (operated by a pulley system of one hundred plus metres of rope running from the stage to the projection room). Opening night is a grand and slightly comedic affair with the owner’s son standing by with an oil can in hand to keep the newly installed machinery running. The show goes on.
Since then, the Lorne Theatre has weathered numerous storms, bushfires, box office flops, blackouts and most recently, a pandemic. Continuously operating, its dedicated stewards have been a small number of families with a passion for cinema and the community they serve. Supporting and protecting this cultural icon for close to a century, they have not only maintained it, but have created thousands of memories for young and old.
Flash forward to 2023. A new family takes the reins of the Lorne Theatre with the view to work with the community to retain both form and function as a cinema for the next century. Growing up in the region and spending many holidays along the Surf Coast, the Barton Brothers — Barrie, Bob and Chris — have a deep love for this part of the world, its seasons, its breathtaking beauty, and its down-to-earth character. For them, this dramatic coastline has always been a source of inspiration, laughter and connection, and is the perfect backdrop for a theatre that they hope can do the same.
Guided by the talented and passionate Golden Age team, Lorne Theatre will embrace the same adage of ‘the good old days are now’. Through a combination of programming, design and hospitality we will seek to recall the sublime indulgence of classic Hollywood while being deeply invested in a future vision of a moviegoing culture that invites new cinematic voices to speak and provide an intimate and inclusive social experience like no other. Because all good things take time, this summer’s programme will provide a prelude ahead of a (hopefully brief) winter intermission in which this dream becomes a reality.
CEO & Partner
Creative Director & Partner
Design Director & Partner
Executive Producer & Partner
Director of Programming
Cinema & Program Manager
Chief Operations Officer