Help Save The Astor

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The Astor is one of my favourite places to be. I usually go along to films that I wouldn’t normally have the privilege of seeing at a regular theatre; classic, art-house, foreign and just intensely nostalgic films, which are all played regularly. But to be honest, sometimes I don’t even care what’s playing. I just want to go along for the experience.

Because going to see a movie at The Astor is an experience. It’s not something that you can find at the multiplexes these days. The Astor is a special place, there is history and magic behind it, the magic of the movies, which has been well maintained and is immediately apparent when you step through the door.

There is anticipation in the air as you wait in the vast lobby or outside the candy bar, an anticipation carefully orchestrated by the good people who work there. Because the people at The Astor know better than anyone that it is about making going to the movies an experience again, the way it always used to be, but that has been cheapened over time.

The anticipation I mentioned is built as simply as with the music they choose to play in the lobby. A lot of the time they’ll pipe the musical score from the film that is about to be shown through the sound-system and I often play a game with myself to see if I can remember or guess what part of the film certain pieces of music are from. And that’s enough for me to get excited about the film I’m about to see, and enough for me to truly appreciate the experience that I am being given.

Every three months I eagerly await the release of the new calendar so that I can make mental notes on what’s coming up and make sure that I keep the important nights free. I don’t think I can imagine those calendars and The Astor not being a part of my plans in the future, but unfortunately, that is a very distinct possibility.

The old girl’s in trouble, you see. As The Astor’s lease is coming to an end, St. Michael’s Grammar School—owners of the theatre—don’t look as though they are intending to renew the lease. Word on the street is that they plan to close the theatre for five years and reopen it as a performing arts centre and uniform shop. @#$%*!

This Saturday June 16, The Astor is hosting a free event to launch the Protect the Astor campaign. Ran by The Friends of the Astor committee—Protect the Astor intends to preserve the theatre as an historical cinema for all of us to continue to patronise and enjoy in the future. Hah! Uniform shop indeed!

So please attend the launch of Protect the Astor on Saturday to show your support of this brilliant old landmark. Kicking off at midday, there’ll be Jaffa rolling, free popcorn, celebrity appearances (My money is on Geoffrey Rush, the ever-avid supporter of worthy causes), and a gratis showing of crowd-favourite Labyrinth, in which you’ll be able to see on-screen the five-metre sock down David Bowie’s tights… and Hoggle pissing into a pond.

It would be such a tremendous shame if The Astor were to go under. The last great cinema of its kind in Melbourne, it is such an important part of what makes Melbourne the cultural-hub that it has become. If we let it die, then a piece of our history and our culture will be gone forever. So please, please, please, please come along and support what is the Alpha and Omega of cinema experiences in Melbourne.

Besides, if The Astor closes, where in the hell will the resident theatre-cat Marzipan snooze all day long?

If you can’t attend on Saturday, then please show your support by signing an online petition here. The minute of your time spent typing in your details may mean that The Astor can continue to show great movies for years to come, and you would have my eternal gratitude for that. You can also become a ‘Friends of the Astor’ member here.

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