The Iconic Mornington Cinemas
If you haven’t been to the Mornington cinema yet, you never really finished your maiden tour of Mornington. With three screens and fully digital technology, Ian McCann will be happy to have you almost any night og the week. It doesn’t take long before you are on a first name basis with Ian.
“Honestly I think a lot of people have been coming here for a very long time. You’ll learn their names sooner or later…it’s an intimate little town.”
But Ian wasn’t always so heavily invested with the day-to-day business. He held a management position at Channel Ten while his father got the place stated… which, by the sound of it, took some effort.
“The only time in my life I’ve ever driven past a theatre and not stopped, was the grungy Mornington one. It was only four years old, yet looked unloved, uninviting and rather unattractive in general.”
So he bought the place, spruced it up and, with a little help from his folks, turned a failing Main Street business into a unique and successful viewing experience. It affirmed Mornington’s hold over the lives of Ian and his family.
Remnants of the analogue age reveal themselves in equal proportion to the digital components. It’s amazing just how much room a 35mm reel takes up in the real world.
But he 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 just how we did it.”
It helped a lot to have the sympathetic ear of his parents when starting out. “Mum and Dad were really supportive of me, Dad even retured just to give me a hand. On our first weekend, I said to Dad, ‘I’ll be happy to get 30 or 35 tonight.’ We got 233, in a theatre that was used to seeing eight or nine people in a show. I was ecstatic!”
The inevitable move to digital, however, was a slightly less pleasant affair. Apart from the sheer cost of setting up even a single cinema, the maintenance was something he admits he’ll struggle with on his own. He has a technician 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 shop that he doesn’t actually do himself.
The good news is the Mornington Cinema is still thriving, even though the move to digital cost tens of thousands of dollars, it was a necessity realised and acted upon. It’s 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 own home!
Though you’d think it quiet during the week, “Monday is actually one of my busiest days,” says Ian. “On occasion we’ve sold too many tickets… the little staff viewing areagets filled with extra seats.”
Now, with Ian’s stamina and a little bit of luck, he’ll be showing films in town for years to come. Main Street wouldbn’t be the same without his little slice of culture – Open most evenings, Ian is more than happy to show you to your seat.
1 Main Street Mornington