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Located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Klipfontein Road. The Regent Cinema was a single-screen cinema possessing under 1,000 seats. This cinema was popular in the 1960’s thru 1970’s (matinees were always well attended). The suburb where it was sited had a couple of cinemas, (or bioscopes as it is termed in South Africa), in close proximity to each other, yet the Regent Cinema was one of the last to finally shut it’s doors due to the changing times. It mainly served the poor and middle class communities surrounding Athlone and was situated on a main road near a major arterial roadway, which further favored it’s huge patronage.
A mere 20 minute walk away, in the very heart of Athlone, there were several
other popular ‘bioscopes’ like the aptly named Athlone Theatre, the Kismet Theatre
(still going today albeit in new premises) and the Empire Theatre (picture
appeared in a Cape Town newspaper, the Saturday & Sunday Weekend Argus, dated
9th and 10th May 2009. As these movie houses existed pre-democracy (1994),
the censors at the time made sure movies like “Zulu” with Michael Caine and
Stanley Baker, were never allowed to be shown there as these it declared undesirable for viewing for the non-white/black populace.
The Regent Cinema and most of the surrounding bioscopes, eventually put up
closed signs, largely due to the advent of the flourishing video trade which
became quite a craze as people could now access all those movies they had
previously been denied, and at the fraction of the cost of movie tickets.
Also, television had been introduced to South Africa in 1976, which led to a
general drop in cinema attendance country-wide.
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