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To do as I mentioned would have been expecting too much, I suppose, Zappomatic but I did think at the time (I was based as an A/M for ABC ‘Up North’)of the initial conversion that it was a very good job they did by retaining the proper circle with the dome, chandelier etc and then I was appalled by the act of vandalism a couple of years later when it was split approximately two thirds and a third.
I had to refrain from laughing at a meeting at ABC Glasgow some years later when I was a full Manager. The Operations Manager told us that , for statistical purposes, ABC Fulham Road was compared with Glasgow. I do not know why as, even after subdivision, screens 1 and 2 at Glasgow seated 970 and 872 unlike the ‘paltry’ capacities at Fulham Road but that’s ‘big business’ for you, I suppose……..
FanaticalAboutOdeon is quite correct. As I recall now, the term is indeed ‘billowing’ :–)
They really ought to remove the division of the circle (which looked ‘cock -eyed’ afterwards) to restore full width and symmetry. EMI, the parent company of ABC, were just being greedy when they did this years ago and they ought to have considered this theatre’s location within an affluent area of the capital rather than some dead end district.
If the original capacity of almost 800 is too large (as it obviously will be these days) then they can always re-step it and have a capacity of around 400 but the two cinemas adjacent to one another need scrapping….
Very interesting site re Chester Cinemas compiled by David A Ellis, Peter Davies (former Chief Projectionist – Odeon Chester) and Roger Shone:–
Interesting video of the CTA visit at OLS.
After a considerable absence, however, the technical staff are going to have to refamiliarise themselves with the use of the tabs for presentation; I refer to the lighting on the house tabs being doused before they actually start to part.
Whatever type of illumination is in use ( footlights, pageant lighting or spotlights on the splay walls), it should be gradually dimmed as the curtains open.
CF100: The ‘bellowing’ I refer to is when the tabs would ‘waft’ forward of the footlights (at about a 105 – 110 degree angle) culminating in the “oscillating” you mention. This applied more to the flimsier screen tabs as opposed to the heavier house tabs.
Screen 1 with a capacity of 91!
2018 recorded the highest level of UK admissions since 1970 when Durham City had only two cinema screens.
However, they were both proper cinemas and both worth going to. The Palladium was luxurious throughout with full stereophonic sound. The Essoldo, though in need of refurbishment, was still a decent cinema and, like the Palladium, had 4 track stereo.
How things have changed in the world of cinema – going although, by and large, not for the better……
Finally, someone has seen sense!
The fitting of the blue velvet house tabs has improved astronomically the look of the auditorium.
I do not believe that Odeon (under the influence of umbrella organisation, AMC) would ever have made this move had it not been for much adverse criticism and I would very much like to think that the many, many comments recorded on this particular site have been particularly influential……
Certainly, in bygone days, the two major circuits , Rank and ABC had a strict policy of Managers collating all media coverage – be it good or bad – of the circuits' theatres for onward transmission to the powers that be and I do not imagine that this will have changed.
I am slightly bemused, however, about the requirement for the faster opening and closing of the tabs. Fifteen seconds was considered about right for a 40 – 50 feet proscenium width, any faster (especially with the plenum in use) being likely to result in the ‘bellowing effect’.
This is ‘nit picky’, however, as the important factor is Odeon’s willingness to bow to public opinion. Their ‘flagship’ once again is precisely that.
Most unlikely, I know , but it would be brilliant if this change of heart were to herald a ‘sea change’ regarding Odeon’s no tabs policy circuit wide ; certainly larger auditoria are far better with curtains than without them.
The same goes for the likes of Everyman who, after a promising start, then decided not to include these attractive features in situations such as York, Crystal Palace etc.
I should add that OLS would be ill advised to not use the tabs for ‘large screen’ ‘blockbusters’ as this would totally defeat the object.
Very few people in Newcastle use language like “Howay it’s canny lush down ‘ere!”. The few who do are certainly not the well – heeled set most likely to visit Everyman cinemas.
As in the case of their other most recent developments, there is nothing at all “lush” about the screen area…….
Photo uploaded. It was taken a week or so before closure as a cinema/theatre. The popular British ‘kitchen sink drama’, ‘A Kind of Loving’ is showing and a 16 sheet poster on the left front of house indicates that membership of the forthcoming ‘Thistle Bingo Club’ is already under way.
The dual purpose sweet shop (external door for passing trade and a linking door from the foyer for cinema patrons) appears to be somewhat depleted and the still frames look suspiciously devoid of stills.
Two young men (presumably operators) are visible looking down from the projection box fire escape. They would soon be putting on the final reel. Ironically, new Philips FP20 projectors and Philips sound system had been installed in 1959 and the equipment remained in situ throughout the bingo years. Three years cinema usage would hardly have seen a decent return on the investment……
Early image of the long lost North Road entrance.
This was taken a week or so before closure as a cinema/theatre. The popular British ‘kitchen sink drama’, ‘A Kind of Loving’ is showing and a 16 sheet poster on the left front of house indicates that membership of the forthcoming ‘Thistle Bingo Club’ is already under way.
Everyman Cinemas, until a couple of years ago, were doing very nice restoration jobs on some of the larger cinemas they had acquired including the former Odeon, Muswell Hill and the former ABC Embassy, Esher but more recently they have embarked on ‘bare screen’ depersonalised schemes – very much along similar lines to the recent act of vandalism at the Odeon Leicester Square.
This cinema closed on 07 February 2019 :–
This cinema complex closed (as the Royalty) on 07 February 2019 :–
All the impressive technical stats are negated by the dreadful aesthetics of the auditorium. Other contributors have alluded, perhaps rather generously, to “ a huge black hole”.
When I look at the stage/proscenium area it brings to mind images back in the 1970’s of those large Odeons and ABC’s which were not included in the conversion programmes of those circuits and were served with notice of closure.
During the run up to closure (usually 3 months) there would be a total lack of expenditure and matters such as curtain motors malfunctioning and tab cables breaking were not addressed and thus the places would limp on, looking stark and austere, until the final day.
This is NOT the look, however, that one expects after a multi million pound refurbishment taking the best part of a year but it IS how this theatre appears now.
Should there be a new production of ‘Bleak House’ in the not too distant future, OLS will be the perfect venue for its premiere.
The ‘flying ladies’ will be the very last concession; there will be no tabs next month, next year or the year after that. AMC do not bother with tabs and, if ever they were to make an exception, the Odeon Theatre Leicester Square would surely have been it – and they would have been in situ and in operation from day one…….
I have received an e-mail from a friend in London to whom I sent various articles re two cinemas which opened on the same day last December. I refer to the Rex Wilmslow, Cheshire and the Leicester Square Odeon. Without stating my own preference I did ask for his. The reply is within the following e-mail extract:–
“…….I’ve been to the cinema twice this year already – I saw ‘The Favourite’ at the Crystal Palace Everyman. I think that had been a cinema years ago and after bingo and most recently churchiness it has been returned to use as a cinema or rather a 4 screen cinema. I was in the largest chunk of the original cinema so it looks impressive until you look a second time and realise floor levels don’t match door openings or details on the walls. Still, it was a decent size to watch that sort of film. I think two other of the screens were underneath the main one and there’s a fourth screen somewhere up in the roof. The film itself was very good in parts but also indulged in METOO self-congratulation and kick-donkey boorishness. Olivia Colman was a wonderfully stupid Queen Anne. And then I went to see ‘Stan & Ollie’ at the Belsize Park Everyman which we did enjoy. Part of the tour was set in the pre-Cinerama Queens (Hall ?) Cinema in Newcastle. The impresario (I’ve forgotten which one it was now – Bernard Delfont perhaps ?) came out rather badly but you never know how truthful these things are.
Funnily enough, I haven’t been to an Odeon in or around Leicester Square for a long time but I think I prefer the Rex in your article to the new Odeon. I don’t like the idea of sitting in something that looks like a model of the new Heathrow terminal 6. But to see the films I want to see I would end up going to a Curzon or Everyman or Filmhouse or the Ritzy in Brixton (though I haven’t been back there since I was picketed as I went in and given a leaflet saying the staff weren’t paid the minimum wage: I think it is owned by one of the other “independent” chains). I never got to see the new ‘Mary Poppins’ film. I will probably have to wait for it to come on the television ………."
I personally would describe the new look auditorium as looking more like a blacked out aircraft hangar – albeit with much less much character.
Returning, yet again, to the salient topic of screen tabs; these would have redeemed the place, had they been installed – which brings us back to the culprits, AMC……
2 1975 auditorium photos added to photos section.
Kers: What you quite understandably thought may be screen tabs are just ‘legs’ to mask the wings; these, although pleated, will be of the same fabric as the screen masking.
I am sorry to say that the only way OLS will ever again have anything as attractive as house tabs and screen curtains will be if AMC were to relinquish the place as a ‘one off’ deal (most unlikely) or if another organisation were to acquire the Odeon circuit. It would have to be a company prepared to treat this theatre with the appropriate respect and to right the wrongs inflicted during the recent ‘dumbing down’……………..
Here’s hoping – and if ever it does happen I shall be the first to say “GOOD RIDDANCE TO AMC!!!”
The mighty Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square. I cannot begin to articulate my disgust with AMC and what they have done there. It has been proven by Independent operators that modern technology and comfort can be combined with a ‘traditional’ ambience thereby providing ‘ the best of both worlds’ but, of course, AMC could not do this, could they? Charlatans!
1977 auditorium shot of the ABC Ritz uploaded. This was taken from the circle crossover just before the conversion team moved in.
The reopened building was, as in the case of Plymouth, Chester and Aldershot, a poor affair with two cinemas in the circle and a third screen in the former restaurant. This method of subdivision enabled Bingo to reign supreme in the stalls area.
EMI, like Rank, often did ‘drop wall’ conversions some of which, like Halifax and Northampton, were neat affairs retaining all the theatre’s impressive features with the ‘minis’ occupying only the circle under-hang. Sometimes,as in the case of Northampton, the front stalls seating was retained and the stage continued to be used.
It was a great pity, therefore, that the so called ‘Social Club’ division were not told ‘where to go'in the case of Wigan etc as their occupancy of the stalls and stage areas ensured that the results, at least as far as cinema was concerned, were very sorry states of affairs indeed.
At least Wigan had no Rank opposition but in the case of Plymouth and Chester where Rank had very fine theatres , ABC, having had equally impressive venues with full stage facilities, were then left well and truly in the shade.
Entertainments pages with all Darlington cinemas for the years 1952 and 1961 uploaded (together with my comments and observations)to the photos section…..
Apologies: I meant the ‘Evening Despatch’