When an independent cinema operator takes control of a landmark site, it’s big news. More so when the site sits adjacent to the world-famous Sydney Opera House. At a lavish Australian premiere for Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Misérables - The Staged Concert, United Cinema’s Roy Mustaca OAM welcomed around 500 people as if they were family (as always), with plenty of glamour, champagne, hor d'oeuvres, and due to the afternoon’s high temperature, cinema-style ice-cream served from silver platters.
Guests included popular faces, such as Cassie Lansdell and Jesse Renee Wynter from Love Island, Emma Roch from The Bachelor, along with Jackson Garlick and Jamie Doran from The Bachelorette, Fox Sports News presenter Jo Healy, and Jules Robinson with Natasha and Poppy from Married at First Sight. Also spotted, former Minister for Foreign Affairs Bronwyn Bishop, perennial entertainer Kamahl, the CEO of Universal Pictures Australia Mike Baard, and committee members from the Sydney Film Festival.
Roy Mustaca, perhaps originally best known as the proprietor of cinemas across Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has become somewhat of a local icon himself. Not shy of launching into an Italian aria, he's successfully expanded his cinema holdings across Australia, and now at east Circular Quay, acquiring the lease formerly held by the Dendy Icon group. Roy began United Cinemas in 1986, and now employs over 150 staff nationally.
The main event though, was the premiere screening of Les Misérables which kept the audience enthralled, breaking out into applause after grand and emotion-filled musical numbers, made famous on London’s West End. Fitting too was a filmed introduction by Sir Cameron himself, personally congratulating Roy Mustaca and United Cinemas on acquiring the complex, and being doubly chuffed that his production had been chosen as the launch film (A hint for those intending to see the film: stay beyond the curtain call - the encore is pretty special).
In true style, Roy intends to upgrade the current 3 screen facility into a grand lux experience, with plans to add a further 3 screens in the future. Exciting times for this independent operator, and for the Circular Quay entertainment precinct.
There are three major cinema chains in Australia that together account for more than 1,100 screens across the country. That’s almost half the national total - Event Cinemas (encompassing Greater Union and Birch Carroll & Coyle), Hoyts and Village. Other chains include Reading, Palace and Wallis Theatres. The independent operators account for just over one-third of all screens in Australia.