There was a time in my childhood, perhaps around age 12, when it dawned on me that every movie I ever saw at the cinema was great. I didn't understand the need for movie critics. The entire experience of going to the movies was magical, especially compared to my tiny 34cm tv at home. No matter what was showing I enjoyed it.
Sadly, those says of being easily pleased are gone. But I still love the experience of going to the movies. Even by myself. Actually, preferably by myself.
It wasn't all that long ago that Geraldton didn't have a proper cinema complex. I recall coming often to Geraldton as a kid and the movie going experience being less than quality.
But our current complex of four screens in our humble town of 40,000 has quickly become taken for granted, as though it were a community service funded by tax payers.
But I think we should be grateful for businesses like Orana in Geraldton.
The truth is I wouldn't be opening a movie theatre in today's economic climate. Illegal downloads of movies are on the rise, great quality TV shows that never hit the silver screen are more common, Netflix is set to hit our shores early in 2015, and with the roll out of NBN it's becoming easier and easier to just stream a high definition movie of your choosing without leaving the couch.
But I still love heading to Orana. They're always friendly. The place is kept very clean. The cinemas and sound quality is great, and they even went to the trouble recently of adding the much requested eftpos. Moving the ticket booth to the snacks bar makes the purchase experience quicker too.
They even have a wheelchair/pram friendly screen that allows you to enter the theatre at the top of the stairs rather than the bottom.
Orana also go to the trouble of hosting charity events, special arthouse screenings and other events throughout the year. It's likely these aren't big money earners, but it's great to see they're trying to play a role in the community beyond just selling movie tickets.
They also made a small change recently that you may not have noticed; starting the movies after the scheduled time.
This might not make sense if you're not from Geraldton. Because everything is so close here, we usually know exactly how many minutes we need to get to places on time. However, this doesn't result in us getting to places on time, it means we're always two minutes late... church, movies, whatever.
Orana used to schedule the movies so the ads played before the stated start time, then the movie started dead on the scheduled time. This meant I was often missing the first two minutes of a movie. But they changed that and now I happily waltz in in the middle of the ads, find a seat and start eating popcorn.
I would hate to see the Orana building empty like so many others at that end of town. And I would REALLY hate to not have a top quality cinema in Geraldton. I just reckon there's nothing better than sitting down to watch an engrossing story with too much sugar and salt on a massive screen.