Films have been shown in New Zealand theatres and halls since the 1890s, but the first purpose-built picture theatre, the Kings, opened in Wellington in 1910. During the 1920s, attendance at film screenings was second only to the United States with thousands flocking to watch silent films from around the world.

Kings Theatre

During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, many New Zealanders would go to the ‘pictures’ once a week. It was the most popular source of entertainment and picture theatres could be found in every city and town. In fact, in the 1950s there were 589 venues screening films across the country and audience numbers climbed throughout the decade. Cinema admissions reached a peak in 1961 with 40.6 million admissions. (By 1969, when the term ‘cinema’ became widely used, only 129 of them survived thanks to the arrival of television.). read more