Last year I received word that the Greater Union Cinemas in Hindley Street were planning on reopening in 2016. At that time, the Edge Church were using the space for services. I reached out to a senior member of the church who confirmed the rumours and offered to show me around in the final days of their move out of the building. How could I refuse??
Greater Union Five stands on the site of another famous Adelaide cinema. My Fair Lady Theatre opened in 1966. Originally owned and operated by Warner Bros, it was later taken over by Roadshow and the name was shortened to Fair Lady Theatre. It was later taken over by an independent operator and finally closed on February 21, 1988. The Fair Lady Theatre was demolished in late 1989.
A small shopping mall was built on the site, including a 5-screen Greater Union cinema which opened on 13th April 1991.
Slowly, one by one, cinemas in the Adelaide CBD began to fail. First The Regent, then The Academy before, finally, Greater Union Hindley Street closed on 17th September 2008.
Edge Church took over the lease on the space and operated church services and community activity from the site for several years. Some of the five theatres were stripped out completely, making way for skate ramps and climbing walls. Cinema Five retained its curtains and seating for the most part with the décor screaming early 90s chic. Edge vacated the space in July 2015.
Greater Union has chosen to reopen. The space has received a modern makeover and looks great. The Hindley Street of today is not the same seedy corridor of twenty years ago. The proximity of 5 Star hotels, Uni SA and inner city apartment living have created a demand which didn’t exist ten years ago.
I for one am excited about the reopening of Greater Union. It creates vibrancy down this end of town and brings with it foot traffic which can only benefit the street and the CBD generally. Greater visitor numbers to the street will hopefully result in the activation of neighbouring shop space in the coming months. That’s the invisible hand of economics.
I was grateful for the opportunity to see inside this one before redevelopment. I saw many a movie in this theatre and it brought back some great memories. It’s always a surreal feeling for me visiting places where I have fond memories and yet finding them barely recognisable. Partly why I enjoy documenting these spaces is to preserve and connect people with memory. I hope you enjoy my photographic tour of Greater Union Hindley Street and it brings back some good memories for you too.