Odeon Oxford, George Street

George Street,
Oxford, OX1 2BL

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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 opened on 20th April 1936 with George Arlis in "The Guv'nor".

On the facade 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 was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank with Melotone attachment organ, which was opened by Alex Taylor. There was also a cafe provided for the convenience of patrons.

Union Cinemas were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in October 1937. In 1959, the Ritz 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 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 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.

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 now has 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.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

woody
woody on January 9, 2008 at 8:46 am

exterior shots from 2007
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/460560097/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/460560069/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/460560031/
and 2005
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/61976983/

the lease runs out on the building later this year and the site is scheduled for demolition to be replaced by shops, a huge shame as its a great deco exterior

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 3, 2009 at 9:48 am

View link
type 38 in the page box
or if link does not work, then google search exactly:
Boxoffice June 23, 1951
type 38 in the page box
for article & photo of a model of this theater

Ian
Ian on November 26, 2010 at 4:17 am

Still open in 2010. A shot from 1986 here:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/5208169811/

There seems to be a stage and extensive dressing room accommodation at the rear in this shot.

davepring
davepring on July 27, 2012 at 5:14 am

Although the exterior is in good shape the interior is a typically botched Odeon conversion with sound bleeds from the circle minis into the cinemas below…avoid !!

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