Before people could download movies on their cellphones, long before you could go to the corner shop and rent a movie, and even before television came to
Many Capetonians will remember the glory days of movie theatres when huge screens played to up to 1 000-strong audiences on weekends. Of course, no screenings were allowed on Sundays. That was unheard of.
Present day cinemas accommodate between 200 and 400 people, on average. In the past, the smallest cinemas housed about 450 patrons.
According to the
The cinema is long gone, but Olympia CafÉ at
In Wynberg, the Luxurama now bears scant resemblance to what it once was. Opened in 1964, it had a seating capacity of 1 300 and according to old patrons, boasted one of the biggest screens of its time and a rotating stage.
The Luxurama hosted concerts, stage productions, and movie screenings and was an important space for many local artists.
Artists, including Taliep Petersen,
It was also the last place
Last year, the building was to be auctioned, with the asking price at R7 million. It, however, still remains for sale.
Not many would remember the
Among the city's older cinemas was the Kismet, opened in 1958 by
His son, Kantielal Jeram-Patel, was five years old at the time but he remembers the excitement.
"Cinema was part of people's diet and there was nothing else to do for entertainment. During apartheid, we couldn't really go anywhere else," says Jeram-Patel.
The Kismet was always a part of his life. After school, he would help out at the shop, and once he completed his schooling, Jeram-Patel worked there full time. He managed the business from 1971.
There were three other smaller cinemas in the area, The Athlone, Empire and Regent.
"Cinemas kept Athlone busy. It brought thousands of people to the CBD," he says. On weekends, the Kismet would draw 1 000 people to the area per show. But as the world modernised, cinemas started emptying. The main culprit, says Jeram-Patel, was the advent of television and video rentals.
In 2007, the Kismet cinema played its last shows, and was the last of the four Athlone cinemas to close. He says the closing of the cinemas coincided with the emptying of the Athlone CBD. It's completely dead now, he says.
The Kismet complex now consists of offices. "It was quite sad. The best part of my life," he says.
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