Corner Chapel Street &
Dandenong Road, St Kilda
VIEW A MAP & PARKING
Phone (03) 9510 1414
Fax (03) 9529 8510
CONTACT US

Why Is The Astor Closing?

WHAT CAN I DO? ONE OF THE HELPFUL WAYS IS TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

SIGN THIS PETITION STARTED BY AN ASTOR PATRON

THE ASTOR THEATRE: 1982 – 2015

It is with heavy hearts that we make this announcement.

In 2015 the Astor Theatre as you know it will close its doors.

Melbourne has seen thirty-two years of the finest repertory programming and the very best in film and now digital presentation thanks to George Florence. It has always been George’s vision that the Astor would take on a new lease of life under a not-for-profit trust so that the Astor could continue on into the future in perpetuity.

This was always the long-term plan and before St Michel’s Grammar School sold the building to Ralamar Nominees, we were led to believe that our new landlord would work together with Friends of the Astor Association to build that long and prosperous future for the programming, atmosphere and passion that the Astor has brought to Melburnians for so long. We stepped back from exercising our first option to purchase the property, based on these concept that a trust would be put in place. Unfortunately, the implementation of a trust was off the table after the contract of sale.

Without a lease renewal, the expert repertory programming we have cultivated for a community of Melbourne moviegoers, and the ‘Astor Experience’ will come to an end. We were offered a lease that would have been financially and operationally crippling, but negotiations failed to resolve the key issues.

The Astor is so much more than just the bricks and mortar that has become Melbourne’s spiritual home for film. Without a lease renewal and without any intention to include FOTAA in future plans, the expert repertory programming we have cultivated for a community of Melbourne moviegoers will come to an end.

We do not know what the landlord has planned for the future of the building, only that we are not included in those plans.

It is no doubt as difficult to read these words, as it has been to write them. We want to take this opportunity to thank the many tens of thousands of people who have supported us over the years. We also hope you will continue to visit the Astor until our doors close, to celebrate the few final months of something so special, that has contributed to the rich film culture we have here in Melbourne. Our final months will no doubt be emotional, but they will also be some of the most special, as we put together more of the very best in film and ignite the most fantastic atmosphere to celebrate everything everyone who’s ever been here has loved so dearly about the Astor.

WHAT ABOUT THE HERITAGE LISTING?

The building, the land, the 1929 Western Electric amplifier, original screen and original projector are registered. The details of that listing can be found in the Victorian Heritage Database.  The building is also listed on the National Trust register. This means that elements of the current building and site cannot be changed (i.e. the building cannot be demolished to put up an apartment complex).

What it does not protect, however, are other important aspects of what “The Astor” (the business inside the building) has cultivated for Melbourne cinema-goers. These include but are not limited to; the purpose (as a single screen cinema), the capacity of the auditorium, chattels, interior design, lighting, candy bar, office spaces, projection booth, etc.

Most significantly, Victorian Heritage and National Trust listings do not protect what you have come to know and love as The Astor Theatre: the entity that has created and maintained a unique cinema-going experience since 1982, under the proprietorship of George Florence. That includes but is not limited to; the unique programming, the Astor Calendar, our incredibly passionate and personable staff, Astor Choc-Ices, beloved theatre cats (Magenta, Marzipan), the very best in film and digital presentation, regular presentation of rare 35mm and 70mm film prints, masterful projection, personalised and genuine love and passion for cinema, cinema-going, film and so much more.

WHAT DOES THE LANDLORD INTEND TO DO?

This is unknown. We have not been told what the future plans are, only that they do not include us.

The following articles, that were published over the weekend we announced the closure, include comments from a spokesperson for Ralph Taranto, but they do not state clearly what will happen.

SBS; ‘Melbourne’s cherished cinema The Astor to close May 2015′

The Age; ‘The Astor Theatre to close in 2015′

WA Today; ‘The Astor will live as a cinema, the owner vows’

CAN WE START A FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN?

It is not advisable at this time to begin fundraising. Though we are most certainly moved by the overwhelming response from everyone and the intense passion we all share to keep the Astor as it is, we cannot, at this time, launch a fundraising campaign.

As far as we are aware, the landlord has no intention to sell the property. We appreciate your support very much but we cannot take money unless we know that there is an option to purchase.

We hope this serves to clear up some of your many questions. We also want to thank you for your unwavering love and support of what we do and absolutely encourage you to continue to visit the theatre and celebrate what’s so great about The Astor in the coming months.

Want to find more films at the Astor?  View the Calendar