Birch Carroll and Coyle Lismore cinemas manager Brian Rose is retiring after 42 years in the cinema industry on the Northern Rivers.
Birch Carroll and Coyle Lismore cinemas manager Brian Rose is retiring after 42 years in the cinema industry on the Northern Rivers. Jacklyn Wagner

Curtain closes on cinema career

BRIAN ROSE has seen a galaxy of changes during his 42 years in the cinema industry.

The popular manager of the Birch Carroll and Coyle cinema complex in Lismore still talks about films with the enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder of the small kid from Bangalow in the ’50s who walked to school in bare feet after bringing in the milking cows each morning.

After four decades he is hanging up his hat and passing the baton to Daniel McCabe – who, incidentally, got his first job with Brian 15 years ago when he was just 13 years old.

It is a poetic hand-over for a manager who has devoted countless hours to his junior staff, showing them the tricks of the trade and passing on his love of the movies and theindustry.

“Over those 42 years I estimate I’ve hired maybe 1000 young people, and many of those have gone on to do wonderful things,” said Brian, who stays in touch with many of them today.

“It remains one of the most rewarding things for me.

“I love this industry – there has never been anything else I’ve wanted to do. Over 42 years, from a business point of view, we’ve been able to support the community close to the tune of $1 million – helping sick people, schools, hospitals, different groups and even things like helping people whose house had burnt down.

“In some ways it is sad, but it’s time for a new journey for my wife Lesley and I.

“I owe it to her – she has stuck by me through some pretty tough times over the years.”

Brian began his cinema career at the age of 17 when he got a job at the old Summerland Drive-In at Wollongbar for a dollar an hour.

“My job description was to catch a minimum quota of people sneaking in without paying,” he said, explaining the best tricks were hiding in the car boot or jumping the fences.

When Birch Carroll and Coyle bought out the drive-in and the Star Court Theatre in Lismore in 1973, Brian spent a year securing a trainee manager’s position at the drive-in.

At just 23 years of age he was appointed area manager of the Alstonville, Casino and Grafton drive-ins and the Star Court Theatre cinema.

Hard times struck in the late 1970s with the advent of home videos, which led to the closure of the drive-ins.

Brian then focused on the Star Court Theatre, overseeing its restoration. It became one of the first air-conditioned cinemas in Australia with Dolby stereo sound.

In 1991, the opportunity for executive promotion within the Birch Carroll and Coyle group arose, but Brian followed his heart and stayed in Lismore, where he pushed for the development of a modern cinema complex.

Brian sees a huge future for cinema and is handing the complex over in good shape, with a quarter of a million tickets selling annually. Hisfinal vision of a cafe and function area will open soon.

Though he retains his original passion for the traditional cinema experience, Brian has always embraced technology, having just renovated cinema four to full digital 3D. Heexpects the industry to go fully digital within five years, and he expects Lismore will achieve that within two.

“Cinema has changed enormously, but you can’t change people,” he said with a grin.



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