The Roxy: it’s a little bit foxy
On Thursday I took a step back in time to the early 1930s and entered the Roxy Cinema. Dan will, I’m sure, tell you more later about just what sort of cinema the Roxy is. For those who can’t wait it’s the first purpose-built 3D cinema in the country, with the best technology out there. For Tom A and I, our visit was just about attempting to absorb the visual experience that is the Roxy. The Roxy began screening silent films in 1928 as the Capitol Theatre. It devolved into a shopping court and in 2003 was saved from the wrecking ball by its current owners. Today it’s been restored with loving care and attention by Jamie & Ann Selkirk (he’s the guy who edited the Lord of the Rings films), Tania Rodger & Richard Taylor (they started a tiny workshop called Weta), Jonny McKenzie & family (he’s Mr Hawthorn Lounge and proprietor of other such fine establishments like Hooch and Cuckoo), Jo-Anne Lundon and Tim Alexander (long time movie fans with a focus on technology) and Valentina and Daminda Dias (local foodies and co-owners of Polo Restaurant). The Roxy is all things shiny and new, featuring the very best in modern cinema-going experience, but the vibe is distinctly 1930s, with painstaking care and attention made to every detail from the wallpaper in the bathrooms, to the carpet on the floor and the old-fashioned candy bar (full of beautiful boiled sweeties, some specially imported from the UK) at the ticket office. Most of the cinema is bespoke designed and crafted to a level and quality that is stunning. Much of what you see at the Roxy is courtesy of the boat-building team at Weta Studios. Jamie Selkirk traveled the world checking out other cinemas for inspiration, and pulled some amazing ideas from inside his own head for what he wanted the Roxy to be. From there he worked with Weta and where possible local business to make it happen. Much of the colour palette and design in the cinema came direct from the coffee machine based in the foyer. Just look up from the machine and you’ll see an amazing retro lamp, and that delightful minty green flows through the foyer. But where the Roxy is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before is with the art. And it is art, and quite honestly I’m without words to describe it all. Looking up to the ceiling of the upstairs foyer you’ll see a retro-science fiction mural, from Artist Greg Broadmore (the creator of all things Dr. Grordbort) it feels a bit like you’ve entered a European castle crossed with Metropolis. Upstairs you’ll also find lounging robots drinking cocktails, busts from the best of films, Weta Workshop creations, bespoke door handles, sconces and other wall decorations. I won’t say too much about the cocktails, I think we’ll save that for The Fly next time it swings on by. But the cocktails are very much Prohibition Era inspired, so expect loads of Cuban drinks and those British gin-based classics. But if like me you like your movies in the morning, Jonny McKenzie mixes up a great midday Bloody Mary, or for the evening cinema goer, you can take your picks from the champagne and liquor trolleys. No more rushing to grab a drink before the film starts – the drinks come to you in the cinema. From today – Friday April 1st – you can start dining and drinking at Coco Restaurant, which means some seriously great food. Then from Thursday April 7th the first film screens at 10.30am. No news yet on what that film will be, but like everything in Wellington the rumour mill is running hot and fast. You’ll be able to book your tickets online from Monday and to make life very simple you can book in for brunch, lunch or dinner at Coco Restaurant all at the same time. So does this Wellingtonista have a big huge crush on the Roxy? I do and the thing that tipped me over the edge was the waterfall curtain in the cinema itself. For me there is always something very special when i go to a cinema a the curtains open when the film starts, but to have a waterfall curtain slowly rising up. Well I almost thought for a moment I was transported back in time and needed to stand up and sing god save the queen. The Curtain itself, well for a fabric nut like me it looks like everything you want a good curtain to do, it sparkles and shines as it floats up to reveal the screen. It’s in all these touches, big and small that makes the Roxy a stand out experience for me. From the moment you step foot in the Roxy it’s like being whisked away into another era, full of the romance, glamour, comfort and anticipation that used to come with going to the cinema, but with all the best of technology added and hidden into the mix.