Cairns Coral Twin

Opened: 1960’s
Location: Bruce Highway, Cairns
Capacity: 440 Cars
Screens: One later two
Operator: Far Northern Theatres/Birch, Carroll and Coyle
Closed: 2000

The Coral Twin drive-in closed in early 2000. The place looked as if it had closed 5 years earlier! On a visit to the Coral Twin in November 1999 I was surprised to see the run down condition of this drive-in. This drive-in was not owned by a small independent operator, but by the giant Birch, Carroll and Coyle. What do I mean by run down? The weeds on many of the ramps in use were taller than my car. Over half the menu items listed on the snack bar signage were unavailable. Whilst the screen presentation was OK the talkie slides were out of sync and the light was poor.

Far Northern Theatres, who built the Coral, were a northern Queensland circuit, who also had drive-in theatres in New Guinea. BCC took over the circuit in 1978. Northern Theatres was started in 1935 by Jack Morris who was an electrician, he teamed up with a group of businessmen that included Mr. Whittaker, Mr. Moody, Mr. Burman, Mr Smith and Bill Moloney who worked as a manager for them. Jack Morris died in 1950 and a Mr. Munro took over as booker and General manager. At one time they ran or had interests in 16 screens.

BCC in 1999 had two multiplexes in Cairns and the drive-in, they clearly wished to rationalise the operations in Cairns so chose to close the drive-in. When the loyal patrons of the the Coral found out, they rallied to preserve their drive-in. BCC responded by restricting screenings to four days per week. The value of the land proved too great a temptation and it finally closed. When McDonalds sets up next door, you know that you are in a desirable location!

Long after closure, the site remained.