The humble double-fronted tin structure of the world’s oldest operating picture gardens in Chinatown, Broome is given the Hollywood touch with bright marquee lights picking out the name “Sun Pictures”.
Sun Pictures is a major tourist attraction and continues to screen films to this very day. This open air picture garden attracts both locals and tourists keen to relax in a deck chair under the stars and enjoy the latest film in historical surroundings.
If the building looks familiar, it has also featured on the big screen as one of the locations in the musical Bran Nue Dae.
Entering Sun Pictures you are taken back to a bygone era where film goers would flock to see the latest silent movie and as film technology progressed, screening the ‘ talkies'. It was where many Broome men met and courted the ladies of the town and the building played a pivotal role in the town’s social life. Many a relationship blossomed at Sun Pictures and marriages were made.
Sun Pictures’ history is fascinating. Before it was developed as a cinema by master pearler Ted Hunter, the site housed a large store owned by the Yamasaki family. The first movie was shown in December 1906, and shows have continued to this day except for a period during WWII. Until 1967, seating in the cinema was racially segregated according to the hierarchy of Broome society at that time, although rules had been somewhat relaxed following protests by some of the people in town.
While you no longer have to lift your feet as patrons did in the early days due to tidal flooding, it’s location under the flight path means audience members now lift their heads in surprise as an aeroplane roars overhead.
Over the years, Sun Pictures has been restored, but retains its ‘knockabout’ character with its weathered tin capturing the essence of ‘old Broome’.
This iconic Broome tourist attraction is a must see. Visit during the day to see the old artefacts and architecture, and in the evening to catch a movie under the stars, with two screenings daily.