News / Arts & Entertainment

Lights! Camera! Action! New cinema open for business

Customers can invite 22 friends and stream the movie of their choice onto the big screen

Jack White inside the new Henkel Street Cinema

Mark Phillips

AFTER a long wait, a new cinema in Brunswick is finally open – but don’t expect the normal filmgoing experience. 

The Henkel Street Cinema has two screens and is available for private hire by groups of up to 22 people. Rather than showing whatever the cinema is featuring at the time, the audience bring their own content for screening through a digital projector. 

Think of it as a super large home theatre experience. 

The cinema opened in early-March in a warehouse off Henkel Street in a semi-industrial area of Brunswick west of the Upfield line. Its neighbours include The Foreigner Brewing Company.  

Get more stories like this delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

The cinema has been a labour of love for owner and self-confessed movie nut Jack White who initially rented the building to run a catering business out of and converted an unused upstairs space into a private screening room about seven years ago. 

Mr White studied film at university but soon decided he enjoyed watching movies more than making them. 

In the small upstairs cinema, he would hold weekly screenings every Wednesday but the sessions stopped when the COVID pandemic began in 2020. 

“People continued getting in touch to ask if they could book it because they just wanted to play their own movies,” he said. 

“I was running a restaurant here called Brunswick Burrito and I got a bit sick and tired of the chaos of restaurant life, and wanted a bit more of a simple business and I thought this private cinema rental could be good.  

“I studied film outside of school and I would have loved to have had something like this to come and screen a short film I’d made.” 

The larger downstairs cinema has been lovingly built and fitted out by Mr White and his brother over many months. 

The cinemas can be booked for two-hour sessions. On arrival, patrons can project the movie of their choice from their own streaming account onto the large screen. A small bar serves popcorn, ice creams and drinks. 

The largest of the two cinemas is downstairs and can seat up to 22 people. It can be booked for a two-hour session for $99. The upstairs cinema can seat up 14 and costs $79 for two hours.  

Mr White is confident the concept will be a success because so many first release films are now available immediately on services like Netflix, Apple + and Amazon Prime at the same time they are distributed to traditional cinema chains. 

“For example, The Whale [for which Brendan Fraser recently won the Academy Award for Best Actor) right now is playing at cinemas, but you can log into Apple TV, and rent it for $20,” he said. 

“If you get 10 friends together, or 22 friends together, it doesn’t cost too much, and you can make an event out of it.” 

Of course, you could watch it on your TV at home, but few homes have a cinema sized screen with Dolby surround sound and a 4k digital projector. 

But it is not just films that the cinema can show. Mr White said he expects people will want to book it to screen live sporting events, such as the AFL Grand Final or the Super Bowl. 

“You can watch anything you want that you can project on a screen. If your grandmother passes away in England and you want to come and watch the live stream of the funeral here, then you can do that. You can do anything you want as long as it’s legal.” 

Once his liquor licence is finalised, Mr White said the cinema will also serve locally-produced beers from the Foreigner, Co-conspirators and Inner North breweries, and vegan pizzas made on the spot and served to your seat.  

The Henkel Street Cinema is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings are essential and customers must have their own account with the relevant streaming service they want to use.