Newcastle would have no shortage of families that can claim multi-generational links to the Tower Cinemas.
But there is only one family that can lay claim to an unbroken 42-year working relationship with the iconic entertainment venue.
Keith Turnbull started his career at Newcastle’s legendary Strand Cinema before taking charge of the newly opened Tower Cinemas in April 1976.
“It’s always felt like a big family cinema with so many wonderful, hard working staff. Everyone was always involved in everything from building displays to carrying the films,” Mr Turnbull, who retired in 2000, told the Herald this week.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Andrew Turnbull began work as a projectionist at the Towers in 1991.
His sisters Katrina, Alison and Maryanne and brothers Chris and Michael also worked as ushers and candy bar staff.
“The big film openings were always the best with line-ups down the street. It’s always just been a fun job,” Mr Turnbull said.
Twenty seven years on, Mr Turnbull is Event Cinemas’ area technician and manages film content across six sites.
His daughter Hannah is the third generation of Turnbulls to work at the Towers.
After starting out making choc tops she now manages group bookings and events across the Newcastle, Glendale and Kotara venues.
“The biggest and best film releases for me were the Harry Potter films and Avatar – crazy crowds,” she said.
“My older sister Emma also worked with us for a few years and brother Joel still works as a duty manager. Three from three kids from my immediate family have worked there as well as countless friends and other family.”
Jaws, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Barry Lyndon were among the first films screened at the Towers in 1976.
Wednesday’s final movies will be Bohemian Rhapsody, Lean on Pete and Die Hard.
The screenings will coincide with a farewell gathering of past and present staff plus those with a close association with Towers.
“It’s been great to see so many relationships form from working in a job we all love,” Hannah Turnbull said.
Event Cinemas state marketing manager Dana Pichaloff said the cinema’s unique brand of hospitality would live on at Glendale and Kotara.
“It’s certainly sad to close the Towers, but there are also so many happy memories associated with the venue,” she said.
“The Towers will live on. All of our staff have taken up positions at the other local cinemas.”
While some may have felt the Towers’ age was holding it back, the cinema’s film projection equipment meant it was in high demand for boutique screenings.
The cinema continued to show film prints until 2016 for the Newcastle Film Society and others before being fully digitised.
Significantly the dozens of film festivals that have made the Towers their home over the past decade will be catered for at the company’s Kotara cinema.
“The festivals are an important part of what we do; we want to make sure that people continue to get to see those quirky and alternative films that you can’t see anywhere else,” Ms Pichaloff said.
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