Melbourne’s Capitol Theatre to be reopened and reborn

The Capitol Theatre will be given a significant upgrade. Picture: John Gollings.

Melbourne’s historic Capitol Theatre will be reborn into 2019 – five years after it closed its doors – under a new partnership between its owner RMIT and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

The famed theatre, which opened in 1924 and was once one of Melbourne’s thriving arts and entertainment hubs, will be given a new lease on life while ACMI’s Federation Square site is undergoing a major refurbishment in 2019 and 2020.

Under the arrangement, the Capitol will host ACMI’s events and film festivals while ACMI is closed.

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The Capitol’s foyer will be restored, it’s cinema projection, lighting and sound upgraded, and seats and carpets replaced in order to accommodate the more than 500 events and 100,000 people that are expected to pass through its doors throughout the year.

Improvements to the seating will be among the upgrades. Picture: Tatjana Plitt.

Among the events scheduled to take place there are the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and The Japanese Film Festival Australia.

RMIT Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Paul Gough says that reactivating the Capitol Theatre will help to link the past with the future, while providing opportunities for students and creative industries.

A historic photo of the Capitol Theatre. Picture: National Library of Australia.

“By transforming this beloved landmark and partnering with ACMI, we’re creating a space not just for RMIT students and staff, but for the wider Melbourne community,” he says.

“We’re creating a cultural and educational destination – a thriving centre where the creative community can interact, connect and collaborate.”

Capitol Theatre Melbourne

Multiple Capitol Theatre spaces will be reactivated as part of the rejuvenation. Picture: Danielle Boule.

As part of the upgrade, the Capitol Theatre will also be directly connected to the media precinct within RMIT’s New Academic Street, which the university says will provide opportunities for students in the fields of digital media, virtual reality, augmented reality, film and animation.

“Put simply, we’re creating a ‘new media’ hub in an ‘old media’ setting,” Gough says.

“Our students will be able to connect and collaborate with real industry partners and the professional creative community without even having to leave campus. That is quite extraordinary, and unparalleled in the sector.”