Comments from DavidSimpson

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DavidSimpson commented about Odeon Luxe Glasgow Quay on May 2, 2018 at 12:29 am

In February 2018 I was asked by Sam Falconer, at ODEON, for permission to use my December 1998 and June 2003 images in a display the company was creating to celebrate 70 years of ODEON in Glasgow. I was only too pleased to provide this. Detailing the circuit’s presence right across the city, the display was unveiled in April 2018 at ODEON Luxe, Glasgow Quay, where I am pleased to say it has a permanent home. Sam very kindly sent me the photograph I have posted. In these days of ever more futuristic, state-of-the-art all-digital multiplexes (such as ODEON’s own Luxe brand) it is heartening that the company is so mindful of its proud heritage.

DavidSimpson commented about Winton Cinema on Apr 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

On 9th April 2018 Third Force News reported that this cinema is set to be restored to its former glory after a mammoth fundraising effort from the local community.

The Fraser Centre Community Trust project looked like it was facing crisis point in February when it realised it had to raise £400,000 by the end of March. However, through a combination of design savings and additional fundraising, including a passionate response from the local community, the group has now said it has achieved its £2.9 million target and the project will go ahead.

The trust’s intention is to transform the former picture house into a hub for learning, development, arts and entertainment in the heart of the town.

Building contracts have been signed and the project is expected to commence in the next few weeks. The trust will continue to fund raise for the purchase of cinema equipment, raked seating and decorative features which have been removed during the cost saving exercise.

DavidSimpson commented about Palace Cinema on Apr 13, 2018 at 8:54 am

It is always heart-warming when a former cinema returns to screen entertainment, and this is a splendid example. I was given a warm welcome by the very enthusiastic staff when I called in, on 10th April 2018, to see Wes Anderson’s animated fantasy “Isle of Dogs”. That was in Screen 3, one of the two smaller screens in the former balcony. They have been fitted out with ‘Luxury’ seating, as have the two larger screens in the former stalls area (which also have rows of ‘Elite’ and ‘Ultra Luxury’ seating at the rear). Capacities are: Screens 1 and 2: 125 each, Screen 3: 76 seats and Screen 4: 77 seats. Interestingly, there are plans to open a ‘Little Palace’ bingo club in space at the rear; it is unclear how much of this space, if any, was the former cinema auditorium.

DavidSimpson commented about South Hill Park Arts Centre on Apr 13, 2018 at 7:14 am

As the Overview suggests, this must be one of the loveliest arts centres in the country. The buildings sit in extensive grounds, with parkland to the rear and a formal Italian Garden to one side. The large mansion contains many function rooms, including recital rooms and a 50-seat Studio Theatre. Alongside the mansion, the 325-seat Wilde Theatre was opened on 23rd April 1983 by HRH The Princess Anne. The modest but comfortable cinema is housed in a former dining room. According to the usher/projectionist, this opened in December 1973, following the opening of the arts centre in the October. (The cinema is listed in the 1980 Cinema Theatre Association ‘Directory of Cinemas’, with 60 seats as at present.)

DavidSimpson commented about Empire Cinema on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:46 am

I believe the press release referred to by CF100 was a touch premature. According to the Croydon Advertiser (Wednesday 14th February), the Empire opened the day before, on Tuesday 13th February. The article also confirmed that pretty much the only thing remaining from the original cinema is the outside wall.

DavidSimpson commented about City Lights Cinema on Feb 18, 2018 at 2:31 am

While on holiday in Malta in February 2018 I was pleased, but not a little surprised, in these days of the internet, to find that the City Lights is still operating, showing softcore adult films throughout the day. Not only that, but, having been re-acquainted with the owner, I was delighted when he proudly showed me the Cinema Bar he has constructed in an adjacent, ground floor space, which, I gathered, only opened very recently. The seating consists of old tip-up cinema seats, and films are shown on a drop-down screen. This is a very imaginative use of this space, and I wished him well with this additional venture.

DavidSimpson commented about Roundhill Picture Palace on Feb 17, 2018 at 1:47 pm

On 8th January 2018, while visiting a friend living in Bognor Regis, I hired the Picture Palace for a private show. The cost was £75.00 for three hours. Patrons take along their own DVD/Blu-ray, and we enjoyed an afternoon screening of the Bette Davis classic “Now, Voyager”.

DavidSimpson commented about Cinema Etoile on Nov 5, 2017 at 2:29 am

According to Cinema Theatre Association member Michael Mantell, who visited Palermo in October 2017, the Etoile had closed by then.

DavidSimpson commented about Reel Cinemas on Oct 31, 2017 at 3:28 am

In January 2017 Reel began a major transformation of this former Apollo cinema. Screenings continued while the whole cinema was given a superb upgrade, with all nine screens being gutted and refitted with premier seating, with more leg room, and new carpets. Two of the auditoriums have been converted into VIP and a Premier Lounges.

There is also an upgraded foyer with revamped food and drink concessions including a new licensed bar. The attractively designed foyer includes digital screens showcasing the latest film times, trailers and cinema offers, and a comfortable seating area.

The ‘grand unveiling’ was held on Thursday 21st September 2017, in the presence of the Major of Burnley, Cllr Howard Baker, and MP Jack Straw, when invited guests enjoyed a screening of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”, starring Taron Egerton and Colin Firth.

Revised seating capacities are: VIP Lounge (previously Screen 1): 29; Screen 2: 176; Premier Lounge (previously Screen 3): 29; Screen 4: 244; Screen 5: 65; Screen 6: 244; Screen 7: 65; Screen 8: 176 and Screen 9: 62. This total of 1,090 reveals the effect of the upgrading on the original seating total of 1,632.

I visited on 23rd October 2017. Deciding to treat myself, I saw “Geostorm”, starring Gerard Butler, in the VIP Lounge. Tickets cost £17.50 (or £30 for two), as opposed to £6.00 in the ‘standard’ screens, so I was a little surprised when nine other patrons joined me for this Monday afternoon screening. However, in addition to the extreme luxury, with electrically operated seats with extendable foot rests, the supply of ‘freebies’ perhaps explained this in part: I was offered a choice of popcorn or nachos, I was handed a ‘goody bag’ containing chocolate bars and a small bottle of water, a glass of orange juice or Prosecco was offered as I entered the auditorium and I was given a bottle of Budweiser as the show began. Then, halfway through the film, we were given our choice of a Galaxy ice cream bar!

My congratulations on Reel on a superb refurbishment.

DavidSimpson commented about Light Cinemas Sheffield on Oct 31, 2017 at 2:19 am

I was given my usual warm welcome by the friendly staff when I visited, on 20th October 2017, to see “The Snowman”, starring Michael Fessbender. One trademark of the Light cinemas is their use of multi-colour design in the auditoriums, making them very attractive and welcoming. The foyer is also very well laid out, with lattice screens separating bar and cafe areas. Seating capacities are: Screen 1:170; Screen 2:56; Screen 3:54; Screen 4:50; Screen 5:64; Screen 6:101; Screen 7:82; Screen 8:167 and Screen 9:128.

DavidSimpson commented about Cinema World on Sep 10, 2017 at 2:32 am

The Cinema World is adjacent to the Douglas Village Shopping Centre, at Junction 8 of the N40.

DavidSimpson commented about Ormonde Cinema on Sep 10, 2017 at 1:45 am

According to the on-line National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the Ormande opened circa 1950. It is not listed in the 1940 Kine Year Book (KYB), but it is in the 1953 edition. It had a 30ft wide proscenium. The proprietor was The Southern Star Cinema Company; presumably that company built the Ormande after closing the Southern Star (which is listed in the 1940 KYB, but not in the 1953 edition.)

DavidSimpson commented about Gate Multiplex on Sep 10, 2017 at 1:34 am

Seating capacities are: Screen 1:259; Screen 2:268; Screen 3:117; Screen 4:180; Screen 5:155 and Screen 6:73.

DavidSimpson commented about Gate Multiplex on Sep 10, 2017 at 1:31 am

Seating capacities are: Screen 1 (with 3D capability):199; Screen 2:179; Screen 3:125; Screen 4:118 and Screen 5:88.

DavidSimpson commented about Movie Junction Drive-In Cinema on Sep 10, 2017 at 1:23 am

During a trip to south-west Ireland, a friend and I visited the Movie Junction on 29th August 2017 to see “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Naturally, given the long hours of daylight, there was only one screening each evening in each screen: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” started at 9.30pm, while “Rough Night”, starring Scarlett Johansson, started at 10.30pm. Our film was in Screen 2; this has no canopies, but it was a clear, dry night. The whole set-up is pretty ‘rough and ready’, but the picture quality was excellent and the soundtrack came through on the car radio just fine. It was a wonderful experience!

DavidSimpson commented about Reel Picture House on Sep 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

This cinema is situated in the Blackpool Retail Park and Shopping Centre. When I called in, I was told that it opened in 2005. This ties in slightly better with the Park’s opening date of 2000. It is one of two Reel cinemas, the other being at Ballincollig, a few miles to the west of Cork.

Seating capacities are: Screen 1:263; Screen 2:215; Screen 3:200; Screen 4:137; Screen 5:126; Screen 6:98 and Screen 7:94.

DavidSimpson commented about Cineworld Cinema - South Ruislip on Sep 8, 2017 at 8:15 am

Seating capacities are: Screen 1:309; 2:250; 3:83; 4:129; 5:129; 6:77; 7: 45; 8:199; 9:173; 10:228 and 11:56.

DavidSimpson commented about Bantry Cinemax 3 on Sep 8, 2017 at 8:00 am

According to the lady manning the front desk at the Bantry museum, the Cinemax (and the adjoining apartments) were constructed by local builders Bob Munane and Gerard O'Shea. The Cinemax apparently opened in early 2000. (This date ties in with the closure, in the late 1980s, of the town’s other cinema, the Stella.)

DavidSimpson commented about Stella Cinema on Sep 8, 2017 at 7:55 am

When I visited Bantry, in August 2017, the former Stella was up for sale, with only part of the front being used by the administration staff of the Bantry Show. They kindly allowed me to look around, but there was no trace of the building’s former life as a cinema or other place of entertainment.

I then visited the town’s museum, where the lady manning the front desk, a life-long resident, told me the Stella was built in 1920. Long-time projectionist Fred Burkett had a photography shop in the town. The 1940 Kine Year Book (KYB) lists the proprietor as W. McSweeney, with films booked at Tralee (and seating for 400); the lady had said it was owned by Mrs McSweeney, of Tralee. The 1953 KYB lists the proprietor as A. McSweeney, possibly W. McSweeney’s widow. (The 1953 KYB lists seating for 600, a 7ft wide proscenium and a 15ft deep stage.) Later, the Stella was owned by Rex Murphy, and managed by his son Gerard. Sadly, Gerard died in a boating accident in 1985. The Stella apparently continued for a few more years, but closed in the late 1980s. (Please note: This history is based on the lady’s recollections, having been put ‘on the spot’ when I suddenly turned up, and details I later discovered in the KYBs. So I would welcome any clarification or further information that other contributors can provide!)

DavidSimpson commented about New Empire Theatre on Sep 8, 2017 at 7:01 am

After many years of gradual dereliction, and the devastating 2015 fire, Hong Kong-based Sky Eagle Properties Ltd bought the building in 2016 for £750,000. Their planning application seeks permission for 24 flats, with shops and a community centre on the ground floor. As can be seen from my series of photographs, demolition took place between October/November 2016 and August 2017. This seemed an inordinately long time, although I believe at least two demolition contractors were involved, as the Victorian bricks in the fly tower were carefully removed and crated up to be reused.

DavidSimpson commented about Sussex Exchange Cinema on Sep 8, 2017 at 5:58 am

As Nick says in the Overview, this really is the height of luxury! I visited on Sunday 20th August 2017 to see “The Dark Tower”, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, and treated myself to one of the premium VIP seats along the back row. This cost £10, on top of the standard admission price of £14.95, but, as a treat, it was well worth it for the sheer luxury! The staff were very welcoming, and the show was introduced by a member of staff, all of which provided a nice personal touch.

DavidSimpson commented about Cinema De Luxe on Sep 8, 2017 at 5:33 am

The Wetherspoon pub, The Picture Playhouse, opened in July 2017. As it occupies the space previously used by the Playhouse/Curzon and the Cinema de Luxe, it provides something of a ‘2 for 1’ for us cinema buffs!

DavidSimpson commented about Redstack Playhouse on Sep 8, 2017 at 5:25 am

The Wetherspoon pub, appropriately named The Picture Playhouse, finally opened in July 2017. It includes the space previously occupied by the Cinema de Luxe next door, making this something of a ‘2 for 1’ treat for us cinema buffs!

DavidSimpson commented about Cinema Cartoon's on Aug 17, 2017 at 12:53 am

No, it screens art-house and mainstream films. I do not know why it has such an unusual name. Perhaps it started as a children’s cinema. The name is certainly misleading now.

DavidSimpson commented about Cinem'actueel on Aug 17, 2017 at 12:49 am

Yes, David, although “actueel” is Dutch for “current”. So presumably the name in English would be something like “Cinema Now”. I should have included this in my Overview.