The Sun Theatre and the Yarraville Village Shopping Centre where it is situated belong to Melbourne’s yesterdays. Narrow streets and a wide variety of shops, but not congested with mad shoppers – a relaxed atmosphere with playful children around, Yarraville Village shopping Centre, only 6km away from Melbourne CBD, still retains the old-world charm. Among the boutiques, bookstores and cafés stands a structure which carries a little bit of history, “The Sun Theatre”.
A review from Trip Advisor summarises it all about the theatre, “A classic- nice vintage feel- immaculate- culture- different vibe to your modern cinemas…enjoy any movie with a glass of wine.”
The theatre has 8 boutique Art Deco Cinemas now, but Sun began its life as a single screen 1050 seat cinema, the first in Melbourne to be constructed with a parabolic floor and ‘Continental’ form of seating. It was considered as ultra-modern and well ahead of time, when it was opened in 1938.
In the 1960’s, when Television knocked the doors of Melbourne homes, the patron numbers dwindled. But fortunately for Sun Theatre, there was a sizable population of the newly arrived Greeks in Yarraville. In 1971, theatre was sold to Cosmopolitan Motion pictures for the screening of Greek language movies. Within a decade in 1982, Sun was closed down by Public Health department for unsanitary toilets and filthy carpets. What a fall from grace for a theatre once known as ultra-modern and most luxurious!
It was sold in 1986 and owners wanted to convert it into a reception centre, which didn’t materialize. It changed hands within two years and the new owner, John Ashley planned to convert it into a home renovation centre – a proposal knocked down by the Historic Building Council.
In 1995, when MGS Properties Pty Ltd purchased it for a fraction of the price of what it is worth now, the building was in a deteriorated state. The new owners were in- a -way, forced to convert it into a cinema. In 1997, part of Sun Theatre began its new life as a film society.
After many changes and divisions, by 2006 it reached its current form. Eight boutique Cinemas, named after closed down cinemas in Melbourne- some small and the others slightly bigger, seating around 700 people – a far cry from its old glorious days. Today Sun Bookshop sits where its original Candy bar used to be. Its unique feature – ‘The Pram Room’, where babies were placed under the care of theatre staff and when the baby cried, the parents were alerted with a flashing baby number on the screen, disappeared forever – taking cue from changing times.
Yarraville Shopping Centre is around 15minutes drive from Melbourne CBD via Westgate Fwy. Yarraville railway station is situated close to the shopping centre.
Address of Sun Theatre: 8 Ballarat Street, Yarraville, Victoria