A new coffee table book chronicling the history of the Regent Theatre contains never-before-seen pictures of the iconic Brisbane landmark.
One of Brisbane’s most beloved structures has had its memory preserved forever.
The Regent – Brisbanes Motion Picture Cathedral is a new coffee table publication that covers the history of the Regent Theatre from it design in 1927 to its partial demolishing in 2012.
Author Michael T Gillies said he was compelled to create the book when he discovered that much of the building’s history was unknown by the people of Brisbane.
“Back in January 2004 rumors of the ex-Regent Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ returning to Brisbane to be housed in GoMA Cinema A stirred much interest locally,” he said. “I was doing some research on the instrument for the Theatre Organ Society of Australia – Queensland Division and one of its members was involved in the organ restoration.
“After more research I discovered that a lot of the Regent Theatre was unknown and waiting to be revealed as part of Brisbane’s history. Eventually people suggested I write a book on the Regent as I had discovered so much information about the theatre.
“A lot of the information was hidden, just waiting to be discovered. Visits to the State Library in Brisbane, then Sydney and finally Melbourne unearthed much historic information.
“Much was taken from vintage newspaper microfilm and also film industry journals. Then I had to track down former staff and patrons from the pre-television era and also more recently to interview. I was lucky enough to access several fine photo collections with many images unseen in public until now. I even was provided with a set of vintage 1930s glass plate negatives of magnificent stage sets to use in the book. These were priceless inclusions.”
Gillies said it was important for the theatre’s memory to be preserved as it played a significant role in Brisbane history.
“It was the most visited cinema/theatre in Brisbane and so well known for its grand interior,” he said. “Going to the movies there was like attending a grand opera house or palace in Europe. It also presented many great live performers to Brisbane audiences from down south. Going to the Regent was a family affair pre-television. Regular weekly bookings by hundreds of couples and families were common.
“It was the home for BIFF (Brisbane International Film festival) from its founding for about 17 years until the theatre finally closed in June 2010. This imposing red carpet venue was ideal for film galas and the Showcase Cinema and bar areas were a magnet for cinema buffs for years. Sadly, now all demolished. As a result, BIFF is no more.
“With the office tower development announced in 2008 and the subsequent demolition of the cinemas, it was a very emotional moment for the community who loved the Regent. It was the second time that the theatre/cinema part had been demolished. All in the name of progress of course!”
To purchase a copy of The Regent – Brisbanes Motion Picture Cathedral visit www.theregentbook.com or www.copyright.net.au. It can also be purchased at Brisbane book stores including Avid Reader at West End; Riverbend Books at Bulimba and Books @ Stones at Stones Corner. RRP is $49.95.