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By August 2016 Freedom Church had indeed moved into the building. Rather amusingly, the Odeon logo “FANATICAL ABOUT FILM” is still visible over the entrance!
‘The Celluloid Ladies’, relief sculptures that flanked the Odeon name on the cinema’s frontage, were saved during demolition. They were restored in August 2015 and have been relocated, with an information plaque, to an outside wall of the town’s Brewery Quarter, which contains the Cineworld and Screening Rooms cinemas. See my photos.
By August 2016 (see my photos) the Palace had been converted into a library and Customer Services for Caerphilly County Borough Council. The frontage had been cleaned and restored, but it was unclear how much of the auditorium block survived, as a One Stop convenience store had been built to the left of the Palace, obscuring the rear of the former cinema.
By August 2016 the Plaza had become home to retail outlet The Original Factory Shop (see my photos).
In July 2016 the seating capacities are as follows: Stag Theatre: 450 seats, plus an additional 140 that can be placed on the stage for performances ‘in the round’; Cinema Screen 1: 129; Cinema Screen 2: 120 and the Stag Plaza Suite: 150 (seated, theatre-style). A total of 989 seats.
By the time I visited, in June 2016, the building had become The Play House, a lounge bar.
The seating capacities of the cinemas and theatres are: La Scala cinema: 138 seats; The Playhouse cinema: 86 seats; Empire theatre: 840 seats and One Touch theatre: 247 seats (223 in the stalls, 24 in the balcony).
In a nice touch, the two cinemas and the Empire theatre are named after former cinemas and a cinema/theatre that entertained the city’s inhabitants for many years. There are heritage information panels outside the auditoriums.
The two cinemas are known collectively as The Robertson Screens in commemoration of the generous donation made by the Robertson Group, the main contractor for the building of the cinemas in 2007. The two auditoriums are back to back, with a common projection room between them.
In June 2016 I saw “The Neon Demon”, starring Elle Fanning and Christina Hendricks, in Screen 5. In a nice touch, as can be seen from my photographs, some of the projection rooms have glazed rear walls, so the projectors and projection equipment can be seen by patrons.
When I visited the Cinetoile in June 2016 I was told the cinema opened in 2001, and that the seating capacities were: Screen 1: 299; Screen 2: 299; Screen 3: 299; Screen 4: 129; Screen 5: 225 and Screen 6: 226. A total of 1,477 seats.
During a visit to Geneva in June 2016 I met Didier Zuchuat, owner of the Cinerama Empire, at his other cinema, Cine 17. He told me that the cinema that was demolished to make way for the Empire opened in 1923 as Cinema Colibri. It was enlarged and renamed Cinema Pelican in the early 1950s before closing in 1965. As noted above, its replacement, the Cinerama Empire, opened in 1967.
At the Cinerama Empire I saw “Money Monster”, starring George Clooney. This is a truly superb cinema, the largest single screen in the city.
On a trip to Geneva in June 2016 I visited Cine 17 to see Woody Allen’s latest film “Café Society”. This is an absolutely superb cinema, extremely luxurious, with very comfortable, fully reclining seats. The auditorium is attractively bathed in changing lighting, principally in red, green and blue. In a lovely touch, a former doorway has been converted into an alcove containing coat hangers – no doubt very useful for inclement weather!
During my visit I was fortunate to meet cinema owner Didier Zuchuat. As well as also running the Cinerama Empire, he has an enthusiast’s interest in cinemas (for many years he was a member of the UK’s Cinema Theatre Association) and we had a lovely chat about all things cinema before I headed off to my next film – at the Cinerama Empire!
During a visit to Geneva I met up with Didier Zuchuat. In addition to being a cinema operator (Cine 17 and Cinerama Empire) he has a wider interest in cinemas. He told me that Cinema Auditorium Arditi started life, in 1957, as Cinema Le Paris, with 898 seats. At some stage it was renamed Le Paris Cine Disney. Later on, it was renamed Cine Manhattan. That closed in 1988. The current building is named after its benefactor, writer and lecturer Metin Arditi (through his Arditi Foundation).
When I visited Geneva, in early June 2016, the Cine Lux was closed for renovation.
The Pathe Rex is situated in the basement of the Confederation Centre. I was told by the cashier that the seating capacities are 400 in Screen 1 and between 130 and 170 in Screens 2 and 3. She added that the Centre is due to be revamped in 2018, for a grand re-opening in December 2019. She hopes the cinemas will remain, either completely unaffected or after being refurbished.
When I visited, in June 2016, Cinema City was closed for refurbishment. A notice on the door said that “In order to continue to offer the best of cinema for many years the City closes its doors for a facelift. We look forward to seeing you at our new room.” The date it had closed was not given, and similarly no re-opening date was provided. During this period of closure, patrons were urged to visit the nearby Cinema Scala.
When I visited in May 2016 I was unable to gain entry, but through the front doors I could see a commemorative plaque in the foyer. It was not easy to read, but from what I could make out it said that the building had been acquired by Rothwell Urban District Council in (I believe, though this date was unfortunately indistinct) March 1959 – when, following alterations and extensions, it was re-named and re-opened as the Blackburn Hall. I could just see into the auditorium, which has a flat floor and stage. The date of March 1959 does tie in with the information in the comments above.
Although known as Café Sport, the building is actually home to two gyms, two function rooms and a bar. When I visited in May 2016 it was up for sale.
On Friday 12th February 2016 IMC Cinemas bought the Iveagh Movie Studios from owner Dominic Quinn. The price was not divulged, but the Studios had been put up for sale in 2013 at an asking price of £1.3m.
IMC announced it would be spending £2.5m on a major refurbishment, which would include a new shop, updated, state of the art Dolby sound equipment and bigger screens. The company might even increase the number of auditoria by adding a VIP screen.
Doubts had been cast over the future of the Studios when, in 2014, IMC’s rival Omniplex was granted planning permission for an eight-screen cinema at a new leisure destination called The Outlet. It is unclear whether that new cinema will now go ahead.
Sadly, long-time Studios manager Giles Conlon decided to leave when IMC took over. He had been there since six months before the Studios opened. (An opening date of 26th March 2004 was quoted, which updates that given in the Overview above.)
Sadly, no films are being listed on the hotel’s website, and it appears that public film shows have ended. (Perhaps this is not too surprising: when I visited, on a Sunday afternoon in August 2015 to see “The Terminator”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, no-one else turned up. It was wonderful to see such a fabulous film in such luxurious surroundings, but it did not bode well!)
Sometime between 2013 and 2014 the Omniplex was acquired by IMC and renamed accordingly.
In December 2015 the Multiscreen Studios were acquired by IMC and renamed accordingly.
I should have added that the local Laurel & Hardy group, known as “Teste Dure” (“Block-Heads”, one of the comedy duo’s films) held their annual meetings at the Cinema Borsi from 2006 to 2013 – especially as their meeting in 2016 was the reason for my visit to Prato! (That meeting was held in the Teatro Magnolfi, a community theatre in a former orphanage, now a hostel, outside the walled centre of the town.) The L&H group is run by local residents (and teachers) Alessandro Santi and his wife Francesca Noci.
I can add that the Multiplex opened in late 2009.
A commemorative plaque records that the Artrix opened on 7th April 2005.
According to the venue’s website “Artrix is a versatile multi-disciplinary arts centre with a 300 seat auditorium, a spacious dance studio, meeting rooms and a visually stunning foyer/gallery. The auditorium’s balcony and side galleries give it an unusual intimacy, while its flexible central seating can be retracted to provide a dance floor.
The annual programme is made up of well over 200 specialist film screenings, over 400 workshop sessions and 12 exhibitions as well as participation and educational projects in the local community. Its live programme consists of over 200 performances, including chamber and orchestral concerts, jazz, folk and blues gigs, top stand up comedy, cutting edge theatre and dance and more traditional drama.
Managed by a charitable trust, Artrix works closely with Bromsgrove District Council and Heart of Worcestershire College."