Odeon Darlington

220 Northgate,
Darlington, DL1 1RB

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Front Stalls

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 now operated by Odeon Cinemas. There was concern that a new multiplex cinema being planned by Vue Cinemas could lead to closure of the Odeon, but the Vue opened in June 2016 and the Odeon continues to operate. Current (2008) seating capacities in the screens are; 550, 181 and 123. In September 2019 it is being converted into an Odeon Luxe.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

sdw on September 23, 2019 at 1:51 am

As previous comments said this cinema really has 9 lives…now being converted to Odeon Luxe (reclining seats etc). Screen 1 being refurbished now, Screens 2 & 3 to follow.

Tony Newman
Tony Newman on September 23, 2019 at 9:43 am

and lets hope they don’t put the prices up too much and finish it off. Looking forward to a long future.

terry on September 23, 2019 at 1:10 pm

I was Manager here from 1989 – 1995; it was not my favourite post as full Manager (Newcastle was by far the best followed by South shields whilst Chester was the most unhappy appointment ever ) and I was instrumental in having the place redecorated (expensively by ‘Cosmos’ of Glasgow) and re – seated, albeit with the best available second hand seats from two ‘Cannon disposals’, viz Newcastle and Manchester Deansgate.

The main auditorium (circle) had been reduced from 628 to 590 seats upon triple conversion in 1977 and , as a result of the front circle being fitted with Newcastle’s wider seats whilst I was there, this capacity was further reduced to 578.

Until Showcase arrived at nearby Stockton on Tees the cinemas were 75% full during the week and completely full at the weekends; I refer to the evening performances although the afternoons were respectable. Upon the emergence of Showcase, the business was hit considerably although the theatre remained profitable. I ‘pushed’ for the circle to be re-stepped and reduced in capacity to around 400 seats and actual plans were drawn up with this intention in mind although it never came to fruition.

I honestly thought that this building would have closed when Vue arrived in the town but, having spent its ‘9 lives’, it now appears to be starting a new cycle………

I assume that finally the circle will be re – stepped and its capacity will be reduced not to 400, as I recommended decades ago, but to somewhere in the region of 250 – 300? I am furthermore guessing that the screen will be brought forward from the proscenium and will, accordingly , be considerably wider than the 38 feet it was when I was ‘at the Regal’! Naturally, being AMC, there will be no tabs even though Odeon fitted brand new ones when they took over in 2001 (?). This will be a shame as they provide the ‘gift wrapping’ which, happily, continues in certain superior independent cinemas.

Amazingly, Darlington will retain its two oldest theatrical venues with the Hippodrome and here (which, of course, is the reconstructed Theatre Royal) in addition to the town’s first Odeon which has reverted to its original name, the Majestic.

sdw on September 24, 2019 at 6:44 am

Must still be viable if Odeon spending the cash – Normally loose around 60% of seting so Id thought they would be 160-200 Seats in S1 (just over 500 at present time), and less than 50 in other 2 screens.

Vues prices for 2D VIP seats (non recliner) is £6.95…so Id guess £8 (cheaper than showcase luxe at teesside park)

Tony Newman
Tony Newman on October 22, 2019 at 9:38 am

I have just looked at Odeon’s website for booking tickets for Star Wars and there is a layout of the auditorium which has double seats the screen has been brought forward and the tickets are £7! with VUE only been £4.99 I hope they are not going to be over priced. Only time will tell

terry on October 22, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Looking at the plan of screen 1 it would appear that the front circle has been completely lost and that there are 196 seats in the rear circle (which originally seated 438).

When entering the former circle now it will appear totally different with all the theatre’s original features obliterated.

If the brand new Vue Multiplex charges only £4.99 (for ALL performances?) I would imagine that most people will opt to go there. The only reason the old Theatre Royal/Regal/ABC/Cannon/ABC/Odeon has lasted so long is simply because the site it occupies has no commercial value otherwise it would have been sold decades ago……..

Tony Newman
Tony Newman on October 23, 2019 at 1:02 am

I can honestly say that since the VUE opened I have never been to a film where there has been more than a hundred in, usually you can count on your fingers how many are in. Not sure if i’m right but I have believed that this cinema makes it’s living out of kids films. When there is a kids film Lion King, Dora Secret life of pets etc. it seems to do well. When the kids are at school it has stopped opening during the day. £3 a ticket or £10 for a family and it is within walking distance of many houses around North Rd it is “first choice” ( old ODEON catch phrase)for the kids. It may not be as posh but what do you want for 3 quid. At £7 a ticket I fear your right they will go into town to the VUE.

sdw on October 27, 2019 at 4:51 am

£7 for a recliner (£5 Mon-Thurs before 5 is seems)is same (well £6.95) as Vues most expensive seating (non reclining seats)

£3.00 less than showcase luxe at teesside so i think will do well (as not as many seats to fill as it once had once conversion done)

Looks like screen 1 will reopen 15 Nov (as thats when disabled access is back)

terry on October 29, 2019 at 5:57 am

Photo uploaded showing work in progress in screen 1. A friend is visiting this evening and hopes to take photos of the place as it now is – presumably with the screen brought forward and the front circle floored over with the old front stalls sealed off.

sdw on October 29, 2019 at 8:28 am

looks like screen 1 is open now (other 2 screens now in concersion) £3.00 still (i guess till all screens converted)

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