War­birds & Wheels

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - SOUTH ISLAND -

It all be­gan on the hard, bot­tomboth­er­ing seats at the lo­cal Town

Hall. Calum Ma­cLeod and wife

An­drea be­gan screen­ing movies there 20 years ago so the peo­ple of Wanaka didn’t face a two-hour re­turn trip to Queen­stown every time they wanted celluloid es­capism. Two couches and two arm­chairs were pur­chased from a garage sale to add a spot of but­tock cheer and quirk to the mix. Says Calum: “That first week­end they proved so pop­u­lar there was al­most a fight to se­cure them. Peo­ple turned up with old dungers on the backs of utes or brought their own. Even­tu­ally we man­aged to get a se­lec­tion of about 60 seats.” Calum used to let dogs at­tend the movies in those early days. His own hound would sit du­ti­fully with him in the pro­jec­tion booth but oth­ers caused some havoc, most no­tably a Jack Rus­sell ter­rier called Basil. “He was get­ting on a bit and was los­ing his eyesight. He did, how­ever, have a pas­sion for clean­ing up any ice cream pot­tles left ly­ing on the floor. We were show­ing the orig­i­nal Scream to a very ter­ri­fied au­di­ence who were en­thralled and in a state of tense fix­a­tion. Basil licked some poor woman’s leg, she screamed her head off, jumped out of her seat and ran for the door, in­fect­ing the rest of the au­di­ence. Pan­de­mo­nium en­sued and we had to stop the film to find out what had caused the com­mo­tion. Basil sat on the floor lick­ing his chops and al­most grin­ning.” They even­tu­ally found new cin­ema digs when the Town Hall was bowled. The soft lounge vibe still rules (and there’s the smell of freshly baked cho­co­late chip cook­ies at in­ter­val) and you can now sit in a yel­low Mor­ris Mi­nor if you fancy. No leg-lick­ing dogs al­lowed these days though. Be­sides, they’d scoff far too much of the cin­ema’s fish and chip ice cream.

72 Brown­ston Street, (03) 443 1505, par­adiso.net.nz

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