Odeon Oxford, George Street
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Originally on this site stood the Cinematograph Theatre (1912-1935). It was demolished and the new Ritz Cinema was built on an extended site. Designed for and operated by Union Cinemas, the Ritz Cinema opened on 20th April 1936 with George Arlis in "The Guv'nor".
On the façade was a large centre window, above which was a carved figure in bas-relief by designer Newbury Trent. There was a similar figure inside the auditorium. Each side of the proscenium were niches containing hanging light fittings. Seating was provided for 1,654 in stalls and circle. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank with Melotone attachment organ, which was opened by Alex Taylor. There was also a café provided for the convenience of patrons.
Union Cinemas were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in October 1937. In 1959, the Ritz Cinema was equipped to present 70mm Todd-AO films on a screen 50 feet wide and 20 feet high. The first film to be presented in this format was “South Pacific” on 22nd February 1959. The Ritz Cinema was re-named ABC in March 1963.
A few days after it had been renamed, on 12th March 1963 the auditorium was badly damaged by fire. It re-opened in October 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in “The V.I.P.’s”. It had a much plainer decoration and drapes on the wall, the architects responsible were Don Berry and Jack Sutton. The Compton organ was removed at this time and sold back to the John Compton company for spares. On October 15, 1967 the World Premiere of “Dr. Faustus” took place, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in attendance.
In September 1975 the ABC closed for tripling and re-opened on 16th November 1975 with 612 seats in the former circle. the two mini screens in the rear stalls under the circle opened on 14th December 1975 with 210 and 141 seats.
The Cannon Group took over in 1986 and it was re-named Cannon, later operated by MGM and briefly re-named MGM before ABC took over again in a management buy-out. In 2000 Odeon Theatres took over and the building had six screens with seating for 260, 260, 243, 134, 129 and 110 giving a total seating capacity of 1,136.
In May 2010, new seats were installed and the cinema was given a re-vamp. Seating capacities have been reduced to 187 down to 84
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