This is the story of Darren Bird's Terrace Theater.
The world's smallest theater seats only 22 people. It's a single screen theater located in the town of Tinonee in the Manning Valley in Austrailia. It's also is the home of Darren Bird, literally. The building was originally built in the 1880s as a home, then it was turned into a maternity hospital. The building went through many decorative and structural changes until recently when it was restored and refurbished as a theatre. Bird was passinate about films, he loves them. He worked at a local theater for a while, and collected various tools of the trade. Over time, he's collected seats from doomed old movie palaces and other decorative bits. The whole house is a domestic museum of Victorian decor and machinery from an age when machinery was the future.
But what makes this place stand out from the 'theater' I own in my own living room that seats 6? What seperates Mr. Bird from my living room, your screening room, and that rich guy's study-turned-home theater? Mr. Bird's home is an official, approved-by-the-government, in-the-directory, ticket-taking, concession-selling, new-release-screening movie theater. You see, Darren was showing primo movies at his home, and that didn't sit well with the area's multiplex. And they released the hounds of authority to chase down the underdog.
However, Darren Bird wasn't going to go silently into the night. This was his life, his hobby. He shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to install sprinklers, exit lights, all manner of public safety code complicity. He had to hire a consultant to determine the stability of his house's timbers, floor, and roof. You can even bet that at one time or another some guy in a tie and short-sleeved shirt with a clipboard stuck a flashlight in the toilet for some practical reason. Darren paid, passed all the inspections, and now has a real licenced business, a commercial theater, right in his home.
Don't you just love it when the little guy wins?
So, if at any point in your life, you find yourself travelling to Australia, in the town of Tinonee (just 15 minutes south west of Taree on the shores of the Manning River), check out this little theater. You'll walk up to the ticket window (which is also his bedroom window), walk into the quaint little theater, and be seated. Before the film, Darren hands out little bags of popcorn to all his guests, introduces the film, and invites everyone into his kitchen after the film for tea and biscuits. It's a little piece of heaven in one little guy's living room.
(excerpts taken from Kevin Murphy's A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey)