The Roxy Cinema: Rediscover the Magic of Cinema

Reaching out to different cinemas is always exciting for me; I never know what adventures a simple email or phone call will lead to. After reaching out to six different cinemas in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, only one theatre responded. “We would love to meet up and see what we can do,” the email replied back. We arranged to meet the day after my Fulbright mid-year presentation. I could not wait to see The Roxy Cinema firsthand.

Geoff Lealand explains the history of the Roxy on his website He states, “Miramar, once a rather dowdy suburb close by Wellington Airport, has been revitalised in recent years as a result of the world-class film facilities of Weta Productions but also by the return of local cinema, in the guise of The Roxy Cinema at 5 Park Road. There is a direct connection between these two sites of activity, for Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor and other Wellington luminaries were responsible for transforming a disused shopping mall into a magnificent cinema, which evokes the golden days of cinema-going but also calls on the latest screening technology and latest releases. The Roxy also rescues a significant cinema site from decline, for it is built around the old Capitol Theatre, which opened in 1928 with silent films until converted to ‘talkies’ in 1932 and continued to offer film screenings to the southern suburbs of Wellington until 1964. The Roxy opened in April 2011, offering a film-going experience which compares to the Embassy in central Wellington or the Civic in Auckland. It you look carefully, some of the fittings and flourishes are reproductions provided through the craftmanship of Weta–but film is all about illusion, isn’t?”


Strolling past a tourist taking a photo of a Gandalf statue, a character from the Lord of the Rings series, stationed in front of the cinema, I knew that this was going to be unlike any theatre I had previously worked with. This is a theatre where movie making meets movie going – an ironically rare experience.

I was kindly greeted by Valentina Dias, a co-owner of the Roxy Cinema. She showed me around the main lobby, the upper foyer, and the theatres themselves. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. With an impressive restaurant The CoCo, cocktail bar, coffee service, artwork, waterfall curtains, sculptures, and luxury seating, the Roxy seemed to have it all. After the tour I sat down with Valentina to discuss a video I could create for them. “We like quirky and creative,” she stated. “I’m a quirky and creative editor,” I replied. “I love the murals in your cinema. I want to bring them to life.”  Valentina gave me the thumbs up and I went to work taking some still photographs. You can see some of them below…


I thanked Valentine for her time and generosity and began my 5 hour drive to Napier where I met with the Globe Cinema following day. Several weeks later, once I had caught up with prior projects, I began to tinker with the Roxy video. Many filmmakers would have arrived at a grand theatre like The Roxy with a small crew, lighting equipment, an expensive camera, and maybe even some actors – I simply had my affordable Canon Rebel t5i camera and a tripod.  How can I do a lot with a little?

In the editing room, I began to doodle storyboards, experiment with visual effects, while mixing in the key ingredient of imagination. The video below only utilizes three of my own photos and a handful of stock photos from the Roxy’s website which is seen in the filmstrip. After a handful of drafts, the final video below is now showcased as the new header for the Roxy Cinema and will be seen by countless visitors. For those of you who live a hop, skip, and a swim away from Wellington, you can watch the video below…


I returned again a few weeks later to meet with the main members of the entire Roxy crew. They asked if they could hear about my experiences of theatres from all over the country and stateside, too. Valentina, Daminda (financial manager), Jaime (co-owner/professional editor), and I actively talked over a cup of coffee for over an hour about how cinema and community can further be tied together through future events. It was a real pleasure to be able to share my experiences and it made me realize how much I have learned about the cinema business through my various projects.

I also had the pleasure of enjoying a test run of the 40 second clip on the big screen. It will be a moment that I will continue to cherish; viewing your original work on a movie theatre screen still gives me chills. It does not matter how big or small the theatre may be, it is something of a magnificent feeling to successfully enhance a cinematic environment. I hope that the Roxy’s audience enjoys my project and that the imagery of the animated murals manages to spark a few imaginations as well.

Make sure to visit the Roxy Cinema and grab a delicious meal at its restaurant, The CoCo, if you happen to be in Wellington! You can visit their website here!

Special thanks to the Roxy Cinema, Valentina Dias, Diminda Dias, Jaime Selkirk, Fulbright New Zealand,, and the University of Waikato.

One response to “The Roxy Cinema: Rediscover the Magic of Cinema”

  1. Bob Homler says:

    I like it. Really should give a special moment before the film.

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