Reel Cinema

Union Place, Derry's Cross,
Plymouth, PL1 2SW

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ABC Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built on the site of the Theatre Royal (1813-1937, architect J. Foulston), the Royal Cinema was built for and operated by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) and was designed by their in-house architect William Riddle Glen.

The Royal Cinema opened on 15th July 1938 with Katherine Hepburn in "Stage Door" and Cesar Romero in "Dangerously Yours". It is a handsome building externally and is faced in white Portland stone. Originally it had a seating capacity of 2,404 (1,564 in the stalls and 840 in the circle). It had a well detailed Art Deco style scheme, typical of Glen’s style of design. The Royal Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/8Rank organ with a Melotone unit and an illuminated console, that was opened by Wilfred Southworth, and was considered to be the finest organ to be installed in an ABC cinema. There was a fully equipped stage and dressing rooms.

The Royal Cinema was re-named ABC from 28th April 1958 following a renovation. Live stage shows (pop shows) were held here during the 1960’s and the last time the stage was used was for a Morcambe & Wise comedy show. The ABC closed on 30th October 1976 for conversion into a triple-screen cinema and bingo club. The final films in the original single auditorium were ""The Likely Lads" and "Steptoe and Son".

The triple-screen ABC opened on 5th May 1977 with seating for 583, 380 and 112. The Compton organ was retained in the bingo club located in the stalls area, but it was hardly ever used. ABC Cinemas passed to the Cannon Group, then to MGM from 22nd May 1992. A management buy-out brought the name ABC back again in the mid-1990’s. The Gala Bingo Club closed in early 2006 having re-located to a newly built building and the Compton organ was removed from this part of the building, to be re-installed in the Blackheath Halls in South-East London. The cinemas continued and from 1st August 2006 have been operated by the independent Reel Cinemas chain. Apparently this is on a short lease, and it was announced that the cinema would close on 2nd October 2008. However, this was halted and the cinema continues on a reprieve, under independent management.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 15, 2008 at 6:09 am

A vintage ariel view of the Royal Cinema, in 1948, showing a patched-up roof, possibly after war-time damage:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/webrarian/552914714/
A vintage photograph of the ABC in 1972:
View link
Photographed as the Cannon in 1991:
View link
Circle foyer in 1991:
View link

Aaron77
Aaron77 on July 15, 2008 at 7:52 am

This movie theater is pretty rundown. It is in badly need of renovation, Inside and out. I went in there and saw ‘'HANCOCK’‘ just to find that the flooring in this place is all wood. That got me thinking ’‘What if a fire broke out’‘ This place would go up like a tinder box not giving anybody a chance to even get out. VERY UNSAFE!!! Another thing about this theater, There is no ventilation. Very uncomfortable & stuffy. Just another breeding ground for airborn bacteria and viruses. But given a chance and a massive renovation, This theater could be a very nice place to be. Maybe it would be better as a preforming arts center or concert venue or a movie theater again. But it’s plain to see that this cinema is doomed. I am surprised that it’s been standing this long. In america this place would of met the wrecking ball decades ago.

Aaron77
Aaron77 on July 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

My main point was renovation, There is nothing wrong with keeping the glory of the old art deco look, Just keep up with the times.
A lot of the old remaining movie theaters in america have been renovated to keep up with todays standerds. See the lake theater in oak park, Illinois or the york theater in elmhurst, Illinois…Or the chicago theater for that matter…All 3 of these theaters are listed on cinema treasures.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 5, 2008 at 8:47 am

A photograph of the rear of the Reel Cinema, in October 2007:
http://flickr.com/photos/webrarian/1750581351/

Aaron77
Aaron77 on September 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm

BREAKING NEWS!!! REEL CINEMA PLYMOUTH IS CLOSING IT’S DOORS FOREVER ON OCTOBER 2, 2008! FUTURE PLANS FOR THIS SITE INCLUED HOTEL, CONDO’S AND RETAIL OUTLETS.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 26, 2009 at 8:30 am

The Reel Cinema and Gala Bingo Club, photographed in June 2009:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kayxh/3734236605/

Ian
Ian on March 25, 2010 at 3:10 am

Interior shot of one of the screens in 1991:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4462155472/

raoulgough
raoulgough on June 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm

There’s a series of articles about this cinema at the link below, with a new page for each of the names by which it was known (Royal Cinema, Theatre Royal, ABC Plymouth, etc.) One of the pages mentions that the Beatles played here in 1963.

View link

I saw Peter Jackson’s King Kong at this cinema at the end of 2005 on the big screen. The place was definitely a little run-down, and only about ten people there (with room for 500!), but a great place to see such a film. Way bigger and better than any multiplex I’ve been to.

Ian
Ian on August 6, 2012 at 1:57 am

Exterior shot of the Reel (under the Cannon banner) in 1991:–

PLYMOUTH CANNON

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

This theater is open.

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