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Built for Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain, this large Odeon was designed by Robert Bullivant of the Harry Weedon Partnership. It is located on a corner site at Rutland Street and Queen Street (in the city centre but tucked away on a minor road away from the main retail and entertainment centre). It opened on 28th July 1938 with Edward G. Robinson in “A Slight Case of Murder”. Seating was provided for 1,307 in the stalls and 875 in the circle.
It was tripled in 1974 with the main Screen 1 located in the former circle and front stalls having 1,237 seats and two mini cinemas under the circle in the former rear stalls which seated 123 and 111. In 1988 a fourth screen was added by converting the front stalls into a 401 seat screen.
The Odeon closed on 16th July 1997 when a new twelve-screen Odeon multiplex opened at Freemans Park. The last films to play at the Odeon were “Batman and Robin”, “One Fine Day”, “Karma Sutra”, and “The Fifth Element”.
The building stood unused for several years. In 2005 it underwent a restoration back into a single auditorium and re-opened as the Athena, a conference centre and banqueting suit.
In 1998, the Odeon was designated as a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.
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