Let's Go to the Pictures in Mossman

The Photoplay and Rex Theatres

Moving pictures started in Mossman, Far North Queensland about 1911.

From 1912, the Northern Photoplay Company whose director was Richard (Dick) Lunn, screened permanently in Lunn’s Coronation Hall in Mill Street, next to the Post Office Hotel where Dick was the licensee. For years, residents of the district enjoyed silent films, often with Mrs Maund’s tinkling piano accompaniment.

After renovating the hall for arrival of the Talkies in 1931, Dick remained a motion picture exhibitor until 1946, when he sold the Photoplay to Far Northern Theatres.

In 1956 a new cinema, the Rex, was built further up Mill Street next to the Exchange Hotel and eventually some of the Photoplay building was turned into a supermarket.

The Rex’s golden era occurred between 1961 and 1973, under the new proprietors Wal and Lil Plemenuk. Many blockbusters were screened to full houses of people who were yet to experience television in their own homes. Once transmission began, cinema audiences faded away and the Rex closed about 1979 or 1980. Nobody can quite remember when. The premises were later used for indoor cricket.

Such vital elements in the social life of the Douglas district, these two picture shows form a very important part of the cultural heritage of this community. This was where people saw the only moving pictures of the war in action. Kids spent their Saturdays in the canvas seats, being scared stiff at horror films or cheering for the Indians. Courting couples kissed in the back row - now they are today’s local Grandparents.

Join us in exploring the history of these two picture shows and getting to know the people who kept them running for the enjoyment of the whole community.

Please send any updated information to infodouglashistory.orgau. Photos are especially welcome.

For more information and personal stories, read the book “Let’s Go to the Pictures in Mossman” available from DSHS for $15 plus $5 post and packaging.

Supported by a grant from Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage 2012