12/11/2008 - 22:00

Outdoor movies part of tradition

12/11/2008 - 22:00

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OUTDOOR cinemas have a long history in Western Australia, dating back more than 60 years.

Outdoor movies part of tradition

OUTDOOR cinemas have a long history in Western Australia, dating back more than 60 years.

And even with the introduction of daylight saving, they have maintained their popularity to become a permanent fixture of Perth summer social calendar.

Starting out as a concert and theatre venue on the grounds of the University of Western Australia, the Somerville Auditorium is one of Perth's most popular outdoor cinema venues.

As the key venue of the Lotterywest Festival Films season, part of the Perth International Arts Festival, the Somerville has seating for more than 1,000.

Perth International Arts Festival film manager for more than 20 years, Sherry Hopkins, said 14 countries were represented in this year's season.

She said this year's films deal with everything from world events and current affairs to family, love and war.

"We have this amazingly committed audience that hardly even questions the films we program, they just love coming," Ms Hopkins told Business Class.

"And it's also very social, you don't go to a dinner party on the Saturday night if you haven't seen the film at the Somerville because everyone else is talking about it at the table and you haven't seen it."

PIAF's film season gets bigger each year, with this year's season running for five months, the longest in its history.

Daylight saving also hasn't affected the popularity of the Pines Picture Gardens at Edith Cowan University's Joondalup campus, which this year celebrates its 10th season

"I think its worked in our favour actually," Ms Hopkins said.

"I think (audience numbers) increased in the last couple of years, more than 20 per cent."

But not all of Perth's outdoor cinemas are happy with the trial of daylight saving.

Owner of Kookabaurra Outdoor Cinemas in Mundaring, Lindsay Morris, will run his 13th season this summer and said he couldn't wait to see the end of daylight savings in WA.

"Pain in the bum, it drives me spare," Mr Morris said.

"You can't start until it's dark enough, so we've had to modify times...we'll start at 8.15pm or when it's dark enough."

Lindsay and his wife Jan run the cinema, with their two children working in the kiosk.

"I've physically turned my advertising back a bit to keep the numbers where I can handle the work," Mr Morris said.

Averaging between 120-140 people a night, or 8,000 to 12,000 a season, Mr Morris has grown the cinema from 150 seats to around 330.

"It's intimate, you're in the forest, there's no noisy traffic because you're away from the flats," he said.

"I get an absolute buzz out of seeing the people come out grinning from ear to ear, that's the enjoyment.

"You see that and you know they're coming back and the repeat business is great."

Movies by Burswood, held in the Burswood Parklands, returns for its eighth season this year from December 5 after raising more than $1 million for various charities last season.

The Ford Fiesta Moonlight Cinema in Kings Park will kick off its season on December 9.

Luna operates two outdoor cinemas, The Camelot in Mosman Park and Luna Outdoor in the heart of Leederville.

Luna marketing promotions manager, Tony Bective, says while daylight saving is a great lifestyle phenomenon it has meant the creation of extra events.

"Music and jazz events at Luna were pleasant distractions for people and it's worked out well," he told Business Class.

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