George Miller sells art deco Metro theatre in Potts Point to Abacus

George Miller sells art deco Metro theatre in Potts Point to Abacus
Jonathan ChancellorDecember 7, 2020

The film director behind Mad Max and Babe, George Miller, has secured $19.8 million for the historic art deco The Metro theatre in Sydney's Potts Point which was listed with $20 million plus hopes.

ASX-listed Abacus Property Group has emerged as the buyer of one of Sydney's oldest cinemas, the historic Metro Theatre in Potts Point, but have not revealed their intentions.

Local residents had hoped it would be bought by the Sydney City Council, but Clover Moore ruled out the acquisition amid her battle with rival councillors who'd advocated the move.

It has been Miller's headquarters for more than three decades, but now redundant given his relocation to Fox Studios.

It was built in 1939 as The Minerva Theatre opening with a production of Idiot's Delight. Sam Hood took photos.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the building in 1950 and converted to a movie theatre, renaming it the Metro Cinema with stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton attending premieres.

Then as a theatre it hosted performances including the 1970s musical Hair by Harry M. Miller.

The Metro, Potts Point, Sydney.

The 2300-square-metre property at 30 Orwell Street was on the market for the first time in 35 years, but had been available for lease.

Miller had struggled with maximising its usage and potential in recent years, with various concepts floated but not implemented.

He was seeking $25 million plus at one stage for its sale.

George Miller sells art deco Metro theatre in Potts Point to Abacus

In 2018, Liberal councillor Christine Forster put a motion to the council to buy the property as a town hall, similar to those in Glebe and Balmain, and could be used for film festivals, as a theatre, arts venue, function centre, bike hub, local museum and for exhibitions and meetings.

“The Metro represents a huge opportunity for the local community as it has so much heritage value and is so important to the area,” she said.

“There’s a precedent too for something like this, when we spent $15 million on buying the Tabernacle in Darlinghurst and converted it into the Eternity Playhouse.

“It would be terrific to put it into public hands for community use.”

Team Clover, comprising of councillors Jess, Scully, Philip Thalis, Robert Kok and Jess Miller voted against an outright purchase of the Metro.

Previously a spokesperson for the Lord Mayor had advised “after corresponding with the local community late last year, Lord Mayor Clover Moore forwarded the suggestion that the City of Sydney should purchase the Metro Theatre in Potts Point to City staff for consideration”.

Councillor Jess Scully, from Team Clover, sent an email to a local resident passing the buck for any purchase to the State Government.

City Hub reported she said “the Metro Theatre should also be considered within the broader context of the NSW Government cultural infrastructure strategy”.

The local resident Warren Fahey noted at the time that "we do feel the City has turned its back on us" with Potts Point a "disenfranchised part of the City of Sydney".

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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