CHESTER, ENGLAND — This site has a wonderful brief history of cinema in Chester:
History of the Chester Cinema.
Very depressing to learn of the closure of the York Odeon, especially so as this charming company last June flogged off its much-loved sister house here in Chester- to a nightclub developer!
Unlike York, where they refused to kow-tow to Odeon’s demands for their absurd corporate ’re-branding', it went ahead here- our planners expressed unhappiness about it but Odeon threatened to close if they didn’t get their way and there was, of course, a prompt back-down. The rebranding went ahead- the old red sign was replaced with a blue one- and, mere months later, they sold it anyway. So don’t blame yourselves,York.
The buyers, Brook Leisure, who operate night clubs in Doncaster, Huddersfield and Oldham, have, for the moment, leased the building back to Odeon and have declared that the cinema will continue to operate “for the next couple of years”. Rupert Gavin, chief executive of Odeon and UCI Cinemas, said they had taken the lease on the building from the new owners until they came to a decision as to its fate- and, having done so, “to obtain the necessary planning approvals”.
He continued, “We are always very reluctant to leave any city in the UK” (we thought we were the only one until we heard about York!) “but, regrettably, with the increasing amount of new competition with modern facilities coming into Chester and the surrounding area, the profitability of running an old building like the Odeon Chester has become increasingly unviable”.
Just what all this “modern new competition” springing up may be is somewhat of a mystery to the locals. Our only city centre theatre, the Gateway, is approaching the end of its final season and is being torn down next year to make way for a huge shopping/yuppy flats development (coincidentally right next door to the cinema) and the site of our award-winning swimming and leisure complex, the Northgate Arena (also very close by), has been flogged off for the erection of a Hilton hotel, of all things.
Anyway, enjoy our stories about the (other) lost cinemas of Chester. Your contributions and comments are always welcome!