Forum 1 & 2

Opened: 1928
Location: 154 Flinders Street Melbourne
Capacity: Forum One 994, Forum Two (Rapallo) 625.
Screens: Two
Operator: Greater Union Theatres
Closed: June 1986

Brief history:
In two decades and 30 theatres, one location stands out as my favorite place to work - The Forum. Originally built as the State in 1928 with a capacity of 3,400, it was converted into two separate theatres in 1963, the Forum downstairs and the Rapallo upstairs. Both theatres had separate entrances on different streets!

Forum One projection room. Vic 10's and slide projector in 1981. When carbons went, carpet was put in, at extreme left is rewind room.

With the re-opening in the 1960's, both projection rooms were equipped with Kalee 21 projectors. In 1974 for the release of "That's Entertainment" in 70mm, the Cinemeccanica Victoria 10 plant from the Chelsea, only 50 meters down the street, was installed in the Forum. This plant was well maintained and generally performed faultlessly. One major trap that caught relief projectionists unaware was the seperate drive motor for the take-up. Unless you moved the start-up lever across in a smooth action, the take-up would jump to life before the projector and snap the film!

The view from the projection ports. The Forum was an atmospheric theatre from a design by John Eberson. This photo does not do it justice and yes, that is a deer and trees underneath the temple!

"Star Trek 11", "Star Trek 111", "2010", "2001", "The Right Stuff" and "Grease" were all 70mm shows that ran at the Forum during these years. The Russell cinemas openned in 1978 and the two 70mm houses in that complex took a lot of the product that previously would have screened at the Forum.

You don't see too many brand new Vic 8 plants installed today. Kalees have made way for the Cinemac's in 1981. Bob Costello, former GU Victorian projection supervisor, works in the background.

The Vic 10's had Xebex lamphouses with 5,000 watt lamps, a Dolby CP 50 was installed for optical and the original Mag gear left for 70mm. 70mm was run on doubled-up spools i.e. spools 1 & 2 were joined up on a specialy made spool and then a changeover to spools 3 & 4 etc.

Upstairs the Rapallo, later Forum Two when the entrances were combined in 1981, held its Kalees until 1981 when Cinemeccanica Victoria 8's were installed. Both theatres ran 35mm on a tower system. The longest running film in the Forums history was its last, "Back To The Future", the theatre ran the Melbourne International Film Festival in june 1986 and then closed. A final film ran as a thank you for all staff some weeks later, a preview of "Top Gun" in 70mm.

Back rows of Forum Two with projection room seen at the left. I met Pat Boone once in this very row!


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