The oldest single-screen theatre in Melbourne, the Astor in St Kilda has accumulated the kind of reputation every cinema dreams of – and a loyal fan base to boot.
It’s a cinema in the grand, old manner, being in continuous operation since 1936. Beautiful gold curtains frame the screen; the entire experience feels like you’ve flashbacked to old Hollywood. The classic auditorium theatre boasts a program of new and classic films in 35mm, 70mm and digital formats and it’s a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features, remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.
The cinema has its very own cat, Duke, who sometimes visits cinemagoers during films and can often be seen padding around the carpeted halls.
The Astor's own story could be the stuff of Hollywood, as the Art Deco building has been under threat from developers many times throughout its long years. Its most recent saviour was indie chain Palace Cinemas, which purchased the building in 2015 and remains committed to keeping the cinema as a single-screen picture house.
Manager Zak Hepburn has a long love of the theatre. “I grew up in Bacchus Marsh, where there was no cinema,” recalls Hepburn. “My mum first took me to the Astor to see The Beatles: Yellow Submarine. I was constantly asking my mother to drive me to the Astor, which was well over an hour and a half away, and I’ve been a regular patron ever since.”