Curzon Chelsea Cinema
206 King's Road,
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Located in the southwest London inner city district of Chelsea. This huge cinema building first opened on 8th December 1934 as the Gaumont Palace. It was built on the site of the studios and laboratory of film pioneer William Friese-Greene.
Designed by Gaumont/Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) architects William E. Trent and Ernest F. Tully it had a seating capacity of 2,502. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/13Rank theatre organ that had an illuminated console. It had a fully equipped 30ft deep stage with flytower, a large scene dock, property room, rehearsal room and eight dressing rooms. There was also a 150 seat cafe which has its own entrance.
Notable decorative features on the facade of the building are a sculpted bas- relief head of Friese-Greene with masks of comedy and tragedy on either side, that are positioned high up on the facade. These are the work of designer Newbury Abbot Trent who was the younger brother of the architect Wiilliam E, Trent. On the lower section on each side of the entrance were two Art Deco style panels again by Newbury A. Trent which depicted “The Awakening of Science to the Force of the Elements” and “The Harvesting of the Elements in the Film” (these have either been removed or rendered over).
The cinema became the Gaumont Theatre from 1937 and was modernised in 1960. The Compton organ was removed from the building at this time and was installed in Watford Town Hall and is now installed in Watford Colosseum. The Gaumont Theatre was re-named Odeon from 7th January 1963 and closed on 11th March 1972 with Sean Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever”.
The foyer and stalls area was converted into a Habitat furnishing store while the former stage area was converted into flats and offices. A new Odeon Cinema seating 739 was created in the former balcony area, using the former cafe entrance as its access. It opened on 9th September 1973 with Roger Moore in “Live and Let Die”. The Odeon closed on 21st November 1981 with Tim Curry in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein”.
The cinema remained closed for almost two years until the independent art house group Artificial Eye took it over and re-named it the Chelsea Cinema. It re-opened it on 15th September 1983 with Gerard Depardieu in “Danton”.
There were special screenings of David Hemmings in “Blow-Up” (1966) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni on 30th March 2018 and “Stalker” (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky on the afternoon of 31st March 2018. The Curzon Cinema Chelsea closed on the evening of 31st March 2018 with the New York Met Opera performance of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutti”. Special prices for the film performances were £5.00 and £8.00 for Pullman seats which included a beer, wine or soft drink. The regular admission prices at closing were £16.00 and £18.00 for Pullman seats. The building will be demolished apart from the Art Deco style facade. Three new screens (one with 400-seats) will be built as part of the new apartment building on the site, and are due to open in 2022.
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