The Mysterious Disappearance of the Grosvenor, Paul Brennan

22 March 2022

The Summer Hill Grosvenor Theatre, was a grand old cinema that once stood in the inner west Sydney suburb of Summer Hill. The cinema opened in October 1930 and could seat over two-thousand people in its auditorium.

As a cinema though The Grosvenor had something of a chequered history, frequently changing ownership, and opening and closing on numerous occasions. For a short time between cinema operators, the building served as a warehouse. The Grosvenor finally closed as a film-house in 1969, and the building, after becoming dilapidated and vandalised, was demolished a few years later.

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Grosvenor is a documentary made by Australian cinema historian and film distributor Paul Brennan, and brings the The Grosvenor back to life though intricately rendered CGI recreations. It seems inconceivable today to sit in a room with two-thousand other people watching a film.

A short clip of Brennan’s work From Station to Door, offers a glimpse of a long vanished way of life, when a trip to the movies would have been an occasion, a night out on the town, even. This coming from someone who would rather stay at home and stream films.

The two closest classic art deco cinema experiences that come someway to replicating the scale of The Grosvenor that I can think of in Sydney would be the Ritz Cinema, in Randwick, and the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, in Cremorne.