The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

The Roxy: it’s a little bit foxy

by Sue Tyler on April 1, 2011 in Architecture, Film, Suburbs

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. 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). MirrorThe 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. Toilet Foyer 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. Elektra Chandelier 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. Robot & arch Golden girl 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. Jonny 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. Lamp & windows 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. Dan 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.

Sue Tyler

When not hiding in her glitter stash Sue Tyler spends most of her time playing with laser cutters, crafting and delighting in living in Miramar only 2.5 minutes walk away from her favourite cinema . She spends far too much time on twitter and is currently planning how to conquer the world using a hot a glue gun and moxie

James April 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Please tell me this isn’t an amazingly elaborate and mean April Fool. Must…go….

anon April 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Nope, not April Fools… I’ve seen it, and it really is that beautiful. Go go go!

Catherine April 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Just. Wow.

Mike Riversdale April 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Oh it’s sooo real (reel? 🙂

Great photos from Tom (knew they would be).
If you’re looking for a movie of … the movie theatre … then may I humbly point you all to my shaky cam at:

greenwelly April 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Just a minor pedant nit pick

It started life as the Capitol Theatre, not the Capital

sue April 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm

good spotting greenwelly
thanks for noticing and letting us know, all updated

Kim April 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

But will they sell sweets and chips in something other than bags that rustle? Will people turn off cell phones? Will they actually shut up? Sorry to sound such a curmudgeon but the lack of manners are cinemas – and not just the mutliplexes – makes it often a truly dud experience.

sue April 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I actually asked if they were going to hire staff to sit in theaters telling people to take their feet off the seats.
To which i was told of a cinema in Australia that has a camera or so in each theater so as soon as an audience member is being unruly they spot them and deal to them. I’m unsure if it included fisticuffs behind the bike shed, but I have high hopes.

imba April 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

So. Damn. Gorgeous!

Dirk April 1, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Well I’m turned on !!!! ………….. ummm ………. tmi ?? lol 😉

Robyn April 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm

The old Capitol hasn’t really been restored. Rather it was almost entirely demolished, with only the facade left, and the Roxy was built anew behind the facade.

So it’s a brand new building, custom designed to be all modern and lovely and comfortable, with the bonus of the elegant Capitol facade.

Unlike the horrible facadism of the ’80s (see Kirkaldie and Stains – old building with a skyscraper bursting from it), this seems to work well because the new building directly links with the old building both physically and stylistically, and the building has the same use as the old.

I can’t wait to see it.

ashley, adelaide August 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Personally I’m all for what you determine to be the “horrible facadism of the ’80s”, the alternative may have been the loss of the facade or the building becoming an uninhabited eyesore. There are several in Adelaide that have been done rather well and at street level keeps the feel of times long gone.

Most people never got to see the inside of the now demolished insides, mainly what they saw is what they still see, albeit it with a protrusion.

Nat April 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

These photos and this review of the foxy and simply fabulous place has my heart absolutely yearning to get down to my gorgeous hometown to experience it. Again, Wellington does it so right, I can’t wait to enjoy – love love love it!

craig July 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

i am home sick now

David Donaldson August 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm

A model for our fair little 1920s city of Prospect in Adelaide, South Australia

Cathern March 1, 2016 at 1:28 am

haha very foxy

Bob Lindop July 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm

What?? !! No mention at all of the old Roxy (fleapit) Cinema in Manners Street in Wellington in the 50’s and 60’s ?? Shame!!!

Bob Lindop July 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm

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