120 Lothian Road,
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Opened by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) on 10th October 1938 with Charles Laughton in “Vessel of Wrath”. Originally it had 2,769 seats (1,086 in the circle, 1,683 in the stalls), it included full stage facilities which were used for number one presentations until 1969. Originally named Regal Cinema (one of ABC’s preferred names for its theatres), it changed to simply the ABC in 1961.
Tripled at a cost of 500,000 pounds in 1969 (a fortune then), it was the first such conversion in Europe and its new capacities were 870, 738 and 318 (still large). The complex had two large licensed bars as well as 70mm facilities in the two largest auditoria.
Closed by Odeon in December 2000 (they had their own theatre operating at that time on Clerk Street), the building was demolished, apart from the facade in January 2001.
A four-screen ‘miniplex’ is housed in the basement of the new office development now occupying the site which incorporates the original building’s facade. This opened as the Odeon Lothian Road on 5th September 2003. This would not exist but for a covenant on the building which stipulated that any new development must incorporate a cinema. But for this, Odeon would surely not have bothered as Edinburgh is rapidly becoming (like many parts of the United Kingdom) vastly overscreened.
On 19th March 1993, Historic Scotland designated the facade of the ABC a Grade B Listed building.
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