Hughie Wallis, veteran Australian exhibitor, died March 18 in Adelaide, South Australia. He was 83.
The Wallis circuit is one of the oldest and the largest surviving indies in a country dominated by the Big Three — Hoyts, Greater Union and Village.
The foundations of the Wallis empire were laid more than four decades ago when he operated a few cinemas in rural South Australia.
In 1954, he bought a few acres of inexpensive land on what was then the fringe of the capital, Adelaide, and built the state’s first drive-in.
The timing was impeccable, as the baby boom was in full swing and drive-ins became enormously popular with young families and courting couples.
One of the first to recognize the economies of multiscreen theaters, Wallis developed the Glenelg Cinema Center in the early 1970s, then built the Academy in Hindmarsh Square in 1976.