Blyth Cinema may not have contributed greatly to the box office counts through the past 13 years with its seating for just 105 people, but there is no question that it remains a smash hit in its own right.
Perhaps founder Ian Roberts had that great line from Field Of Dreams: “Build it and they will come” on his mind when he wandered across from his house to the auction of the Masonic Lodge.
Mr Roberts says he can’t remember just what he was thinking when he then bought the Lodge, aside from that it was “going cheap”.
But he does know that when he decided to create a cinema in the building he did not think it would prove as successful as it has.
“When we established the cinema and the business, which is run by the township, we thought 40 people a week using it would be good,” Mr Roberts said.
“We quickly got to 130 people a week and now we’re at 300 a week on average. We have bus trips from Adelaide and we get people coming from right across the region.
“It has been really particularly important for young professionals with disposable incomes who don’t want to just go to the pub each and every time for entertainment.”
Mr Roberts, who not only was the founder of the cinema but is also the chairman of the operating committee, is still owner of the Masonic Lodge building – but that is soon to change.
“I bought the building originally because it was cheap,” he said.
“We hadn’t really planned on doing movie meals nights but now we do out of the community hall and as a result we have been able to invest back into the community hall, which would have to be one of the best equipped halls north of Adelaide.
“We are now wanting to apply for grants to create another room in the cinema as a further improvement and in that process it helps if the community owns the building as well as the business, so that transfer of ownership is taking place soon.”
Natalie McElroy is the sole employee of Blyth Cinema, coordinating ticket sales and group bookings, while its success hinges on the volunteer efforts of about 25 people from the town with a population of about 500 people.
“Even in times with Netflix and the like, that whole thing of going to the movies is still a popular thing,” Ms McElroy said.
“People come from everywhere.”