Curzon Chelsea Cinema

206 King's Road,
London, SW3 5XP

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Gaumont Palace, Chelsea

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

Robbie25646 on November 1, 2014 at 4:33 am

I am so pleased that this cinema has been saved. I was assistant manager here way back in the mid nineteen-seventies and loved the place. I was known then as Robin Brewer.

cultman1 on January 3, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Not necessarily saved… Parisite Property Developers have been given permission to demolish the building and put up flats etc in its place with a proviso for anunderground cinema of sorts. Cadogan Estates successfully appealed and once again big business has been allowed to overrule what little is left of our Kings Road heritage.

HowardBHaas on January 4, 2016 at 10:35 am

this article may be the recent plans, for a triplex including a new 400 seat main auditorium-

Zappomatic on February 23, 2017 at 11:40 am

Noticed the cinema is advertising itself as “London’s biggest screen outside the West End”. Not sure by what metric though as it’s eclipsed in both screen size and seating capacity by Cineworld at the O2. Biggest screen in Central London outside the Wet End? Biggest Curzon screen outside the West End?

HowardBHaas on February 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Anyone know how large the screen actually is here? I’ve only visited 2ce, both “flat” movies. There’s photos here of the screen set to flat. Maybe at a “scope” movie, someone can photo?

thomastace on March 27, 2018 at 7:05 am

This cinema is closing on March 31st. It will reopen as a 3 screen cinema in 2022 with approx 600 seats across the screens. From the plans it looks like the front of the building is being saved but with all being being rebuilt. Very sad news but with a hint of optimism.

SethLewis on March 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Special £5 shows of Blow Up and Stalker Friday and Saturday to celebrate if possible the end of the Chelsea as we know it…Have tickets for Friday night

Sad news I used to live around the corner and saw some great ones here – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Jamie Eliott, a lot of Woody Allen, Jean de Florette, Short Cuts

Still a difficult neighborhood in which not to have disabled access – the place needed some work! Long live!

SethLewis on March 31, 2018 at 10:38 am

Great atmosphere last night…free drinks and £5 show of Blow-Up This will be missed

Ian on April 1, 2018 at 2:23 am

Some photos taken on the final afternoon – Saturday 31st March 2018 – before and after the final film “Stalker” (there was a live Met Opera screening in the evening).






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