Palace Cinemas has always had it pretty right when it comes to movie-going. The Australian production house and cinema group swapped patterned casino carpets and the scent of burnt popcorn for a more sophisticated, European aesthetic. They leave off the Michael Bay blockbusters, screen international film festivals, and serve wine and cheese and gelato, instead of Coke and candy. It’s a formula that’s proved popular with film obsessives and enthusiasts, and very recently—the company enlisted Melbourne’s DesignOffice to design a new Sydney flagship to reignite the romance of the cinema experience even more.
Located on the third floor of the Central Park complex in Chippendale, Palace Central opened in late 2017 and is a lot more like a sleek first-class airline lounge than an overcrowded school holiday hotspot. I visited to see The Post a couple of weeks ago and immediately regretted not having arrived sooner to enjoy all the pre-film splendours. DesignOffice’s brief was to draw out the hospitality element of the Palace experience—there is a prosecco bar, beer hall, a self-service wine machine, and platinum members lounge.
The expansive prosecco bar peers across Chippendale Green below. Raw concrete columns and exposed services glow red, then mauve, tangerine, and coral under gentle tinted lights. Burnt oak flooring has been matched with marble, bronze, timber panelling, dense navy carpets and muted gold aluminium. Armchairs and loungers in pale green and eggplant are layered over the top.
The beer hall is marked by a glowing white neon sign, and features pale pink square cut wall tiles, HAY Palisade stools and bench seats alongside long timber tables, and arched ceiling vaults—to reference true beer halls. In the intimate platinum lounge, a custom brass custom brass sculpture mounted on a raw concrete wall lines the lobby area. Cinema entryways are lit by soft-glowing neon numbers, and each auditorium is ultra-modern: most have leather recliners, and two feature floor to ceiling windows, which can be curtained and blacked out, or at night time, offer a rooftop cinema type viewing, with views across the cityscape.
So, I can conclude that The Post is a great film – Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and her quiet, formidable realization of power and strength is poignant for 2018. But so is Palace Central—it’s a new benchmark for cinema and movie-watching in its own right.