The magic of
cinema since 1918
1937 – The Evert era begins
The Longreach Leader reports of the sale of the Winton Picture Theatre to Mr John Thomas William Evert (Bill), owner of the Central Hotel. From this point on, the Everts have remained loyal custodians of the theatre for generations. This also makes the beginning of a time of great improvements over the course of the next decades.
Pictured: Bill and his wife Ellen
1938 – Rise of the phoenix
At 10:30pm on October 1st, fierce flames were seen licking the sky above Winton. A blaze powered by a strong breeze swept through Elderslie Street and while no lives were lost, many buildings including the Royal Talkies Theatre were reduced to rubble with a monstrous £15,000 damage bill. The fire originated in the projection room and quickly spread, causing movie-goers to flee the theatre through Cobb Lane.
While it looked like the end for The Royal, this didn’t stop Bill in his efforts. It was reported in a local newspaper that a Mr Evert boarded a mail plane to Brisbane the following Thursday to purchase a new audio plant to replace the one lost in the fire. In November, Bill purchased the land on which the old Royal Mail hotel stood to gain complete control of the rebuild process. The steel skeleton of the new theatre space was erected by December 14th, and a date was set for the re-opening; December 21st. Nothing grand, as Bill wanted it to be business as usual. Corrugated iron cladded the structure and the projection room was made fireproof with Fibro sheeting. Weather permitting, William would be able to re-open his theatre just in time for Christmas.
Pictured: The Royal Mail Hotel and theatre engulfed in flames, and in ruin. (State Library of Queensland)
2005 – Premiere of The Proposition
Hit movie The Proposition, written by Nick Cave, was shot in various locations across the Winton area and included several local indigenous people in front and behind the camera. Premiering at The Royal Theatre Winton on September 24, 2005, the movie was filmed on 35mm film and screened on the Royal Theatre Winton projectors by local projectionist Steven Snell.
2014 – Just splendid
The Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival commenced its yearly events at the Royal Open Air Theatre, showcasing new film-making talent and hosting student short film contests. Regular celebrity appearances are made with the walk of fame outside the theatre showcasing the star-studded lineup of previous years’ attendants.
Pictured: Popcorn served by the bathload!
2018 – One hundred years
On the centenary of the theatre’s opening, the spotlight was on Winton! A handful of reporters came out to document the occasion and a small celebration with the townspeople was held. It was a time to reflect on the efforts of everyone involved and all the wonder and joy brought to the community over those one hundred years.
Pictured: Sallyanne Atkinson with Evert family members, Janice, Maureen and Peter.
2018 – Winton Movies Inc.
Winton Movies Inc. (WMI) is a not-for-profit entity established to promote film and cultural experiences for the Winton community and the Queensland Outback through the open-air Royal Theatre Winton. WMI Chair Jeff Close’s advocacy for the preservation of the theatre led to the formation of WMI in 2018 with the support of Luke Miller, who continues to lead the theatre operations on a voluntary basis.
2020/21 – The show must go on
A Business Development sub-committee, led by Lydia Evert, was established to bring the theatre back to life and achieve the vision of WMI. This renovation stage was funded through grass roots fundraising and grants.
Lead by WMI Project Manager Gavin Evert, phase 1 of the renovation program was completed in February 2021. It included an entrance renovation, highlighting the original features of the historic building, and the building of a new museum space to showcase the unique artefacts and equipment that have been unearthed from the Royal Theatre.
In 2021, regular seasonal programming expanded to 3 nights per week and a new museum experience was created for visitors to learn about the theatre’s unique history and its place in local culture.
Pictured: Envisioning for a refurbished Candy Bar and commenced renovation work.
Be a part of our story today.