THE PENTHOUSE, ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS THE VOGUE THEATRE, WAS CONSTRUCTED FOR THE RANISH FAMILY AND OPENED ON 15 JUNE 1939.
The Ranish family ran the theatre until around 1951 when it was taken over by the Vogue Company Limited, a company formed by former National Film Unit and wartime cameraman, Stan Weymss. Stan then joined up with Noel Peach to form Peach Weymss Productions Limited.
Turning the Vogue into a studio, the company started making television commercials. In later years, the unused space was leased out to a number of small business people.
The building came under new ownership in 1975 when Merv and Carol Kisby bought the building, re-named it the Penthouse Cinema and a new era began.
Merv Kisby had been in the film exhibition industry since 1949 and was responsible for holding the Wellington Film Society’s annual international festival from 1971 to 1984 at the Paramount Theatre.
Merv and Carol’s daughter, Sandra, was involved in the business from day one. Her interests, however, developed into that of a more professional nature when she entered into partnership with her parents in 1991. After Merv passed away in August 1994, Sandra took a leading role in the business and has continued to develop the business as her father would have wished.
In November 1994, a café was opened in the centre of the building just off the foyer.
A second cinema was opened in June 1995. This is located at the rear of the building, in an area that had been closed off since 1975.
The original cinema, located upstairs, has been refurbished to include new seats, plush wall curtains and a new air conditioning system. All of the refurbishments have been carried out while preserving the original character of the cinema.
The Vogue Suite, a luxurious 30-seater lounge cinema and function space opened in 2001.
In December 2005, a fourth screen opened, featuring 168 luxurious armchair seats with legroom to spare, an impressive wall to wall screen and state of the art sound system. As part of the development of the new screen, a large carparking area has also been created right next door to the cinema.
All the developments that have been taken place at the Penthouse Cinema in recent years have been done with the original art deco style of the cinema in mind. The cinema proudly retains its old-fashioned charm and elegance while offering a first class cinematic experience to moviegoers.