Iconic Mornington Cinemas
Mornington Cinemas…The Story Behind The Small Screen Success
If you haven’t been to the Mornington Cinema yet then you haven’t really finished your maiden tour of Mornington. With 3 screens and fully digital technology, Ian McCann, the long time owner, will be happy to have you almost any night of the week. And rest assured, it wont take long before you are all on a first name basis!
Ian wasn’t always in the cinema business. Before his Mornington adventure Ian was in a management position at Channel 10. When the McCann’s purchased the cinema in 1981 it was only four years old, but in Ian’s words “looked unloved, uninviting and rather unattractive in general.” In fact he said, it was “the only time in my life that I’ve ever driven past a theatre and not stopped.”
So with the help of his folks the McCanns spruced up the cinema and turned what was a failing Main Street business into a unique and successful viewing experience and entertainment venue.
Ian remembers his first day like it was yesterday. “On the first night I came in, the programming…it was all wrong. The show opened with Breaking Ground, and the supporting feature was Porridge! Who’s going to hang around to see those two on the same night?! But, the double feature in those days, that was how we did it.”
Remnants of the analogue age revealed themselves and the move to digital was inevitable. It was, however, a less than pleasant affair. Apart from the sheer cost of setting up even a single cinema, the maintenance is something Ian admits he’ll struggle with on his own. He has technicians on retainer, but digital equipment – especially complex digital equipment that is purpose built to handle terabytes of data – is costly to maintain. It’s one of the few things around the cinema he doesn’t actually do himself!
The closest comparison in terms of business and operations was probably the four screen cinema that crossed Nepean Hwy in Frankston back in the 90’s. The owners there refused to go digital from day one, and for a while even managed to undercut the new AMC (now Hoyts) cinema for sometime. But the big guys won the day and eventually it cost Ian’s counterpart a lot.
But Ian is still thriving, even though the move to digital alone cost thousands of dollars, it was a necessity realised at the point where Ian was running out of new show reels to rig up! However, Ian now sees is as an investment that shows faith in the future, and in the willingness of most of us to pay a fair price for a quality night out, especially at a time where high definition content can be downloaded in a matter of minutes from the comfort of ones home…. There’s just something special that comes from a night at the cinema with a box of popcorn and a choc top!
We’re sure, that with Ian’s level of stamina, and a little bit of luck he’ll be showing films in this town for years to come. Main Street just wouldn’t be the same without his little slice of culture – open most evenings, Ian is more than happy to show you to your seat!