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The 1885 built Theatre Royal (architect Charles J. Phipps) was operating as a cinema when it closed in 1936. It was being operated by John Maxwell’s company Associated British Cinemas(ABC) and they employed the architectural firm Percy Brown, Son & Harding to build a new super cinema. The building was demolished apart from the side walls of the old theatre which were retained, the facade and stage end were new.
It opened as the Regal Cinema on 31st January 1938 with Spencer Tracey in "Captains Courageous". The seating capacity was for 1,620 in stalls and circle levels. There was no provision provided for an organ.
It was re-named ABC in 1961 and closed in May 1977 for conversion to a triple screen cinema. The ABC re-opened 16th June 1977 with screen 1 in the former circle seating 590 and screens 2 & 3 in the former stalls seating 220 and 149.
It was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon in the mid-1980’s, then it became the MGM and later reverted back to the ABC name. It is currently operated by Odeon Cinemas. However there is concern that a new multiplex cinema is planned by Vue Cinemas and this could lead to closure of the Odeon. Current (2008) seating capacities in the screens are; 550, 181 and 123.
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