SYN Nation

Lido Cinemas Rooftop Launch


A roulette table, olive-laden martinis (shockingly stirred rather than shaken) and some very sharp suits: on Tuesday Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn put on a Bond-themed soirée to announce the summer season of their new rooftop cinema, which opens tonight with – of course – Spectre. The cold weather forced the action downstairs for most of the evening, as will be the case throughout the summer when conditions are dodgy. Marketing manager Sue Ristovski told us on her mingle journey through the crowd that in the case of bad weather, films will be showed indoors, so fans will still be able to take advantage of bookings. This is certainly a good thing, as the first three nights are already sold out – cancellations would disgruntle quite a few people.

Upstairs in the cool air and overlooking Glenferrie Road and marvellous Melbourne, owner Eddie Tamir (who also owns Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick and Cameo Cinemas in Belgrave) highlighted the historical significance of the site, which first opened as a cinema in 1912 and closed in 1956. The building lay empty for decades, until Tamir bought it five years ago to bring it back to life. Lido Cinemas finally opened its doors in June this year, and the rooftop is its crowning glory. Although not new as a concept, Tamir told the crowd, the Lido’s rooftop cinema stands out not just for the building’s history, but also for its focus on new release films. “Fresh air, fresh films,” he said. “We’re trying to make it interesting, and God forbid a bit cool.”

Ensconced in beanbags and deck chairs, viewers are each supplied with headphones (or you can bring your own) and radios. Tamir joked some of the audience may not be familiar with using analogue radios, such have the times changed. “You don’t have to put the antennae up, have a sword fight.”As he pointed out, the radio system “respects the neighbours”. He also claims it preserves the high quality sound. But on this I am not so sure – unfortunately the trailers screened were marred by a constant high-pitched interference noise through the headphones. I experimented with the tuning to no avail, and the three others I asked all experienced the same thing. For some, the noise will be no big deal as you quickly become accustomed to it, but for others it could be a nightmare. Hopefully this can be rectified, as the selection for this summer looks spectacular.

Tamir and his team screened trailers of Spectre (the latest Bond), The Hateful Eight (the latest Tarantino), Joy (the latest J-Law, Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell combo), The Good Dinosaur (the latest Disney/Pixar), Carol (the latest Todd Haynes feature with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), and The Danish Girl (the latest moving biopic, centred around the first sex change operation). Tamir told me his decision to screen new releases on the roof was down to the “energy” around them. “People want to have conversations around new films. And in the commercial realm you need that draw.”

Judging from the selection, there is going to be plenty to talk about this season, and it’s fantastic to see quality cinema options expanding across the suburbs. Fingers crossed the bad weather – and radio reception – will not be a constant.


– Alice Walker.


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