The George St Cinema complex – a Sydney institution – is set to be demolished to make way for a 500-apartment high rise building, which is just about the most Sydney thing possible. The cinema, which is currently owned by Event Cinemas, might have been a bit ratty, a bit outdated, and overall a bit lacking compared to the Hoyts down the road, but it’s an iconic piece of Sydney’s landscape disappearing for yet more apartments. Sydneysiders are naturally in mourning.
But first: what the hell is going on? Yesterday, the Central Sydney Planning Committee approved a $690 million project that would see the George St Cinema demolished to make way for a new high rise. The proposed building, some 270-metres high, would contain a public restaurant and bar on the 80th floor, a new childcare facility, a retail premise with a new, boutique cinema, and 507 residential apartments.
George Street Cinema is set to be demolished for a new sky-scraper development. @SydneyPead pic.twitter.com/ohec3vNDzK
— 10 News First Sydney (@10NewsFirstSyd) May 14, 2020
The architectural design was found by the committee to exhibit “design excellence” and provide a “timeless and elegant addition to the Sydney skyline”.
Which, sure. But perhaps the fancy folk at the Real Estates 4 Us planning committee didn’t realise the timeless and elegant tradition of shovelling either Macca’s or Hungry Jacks in ya gob before slinking, greasy-fingered, into the cinema to watch as many films as you could sneak into.
The point is: closing down George St Cinemas is the end of an era for Sydneysiders, many of us who used to congregate around it like wayward moths drawn to a sticky flame. Already a petition to “Stop George St Cinema being demolished” is live (latest signature count: 44), and online, people are paying tribute to this weird yet beloved bit of Sydney.
Weirdly emotional about the end of George St cinemas. I have vivid memories of my mum taking me on the train to see Disney movies there as a kid. As a critic, I spent more hours in that building than any other. I fell in love with movies there. It will be missed.
— Marc Fennell (@MarcFennell) May 14, 2020
…the smell of popcorn flowing through as you walked in each cinema to compare movies and session times. Attending Sydney Film Festival events…and for many of us experiencing our first movie on the big screen was undoubtedly at one of the cinemas on that strip.
— Paul K | @firstname.lastname@example.org (@paulipaulyk) May 15, 2020
I will say this for George St Cinema: it sucks. I’m sorry, but I must speak my truth. The seats don’t have cool leg rests, the bathrooms down the end on the left are some of the least cleaned in Sydney (according to every time I’ve used them), and you have to fight your way through an overcrowded footpath just to get inside.
But as someone who’s spent many, many screenings up the back of the cinema, playing countless drinking games to terrible movies – I’m sad to see it go. Rest easy, king.