Dominion Theatre

268-269 Tottenham Court Road,
London, W1T 5AQ

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Dominion Theatre

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Designed by William and T. R. Milburn at a cost of £459,727, the Dominion Theatre opened on July 21, 1930 with a live show;the musical comedy “Follow Through” starring Elsie Randolph, but it soon became devoted to film fare. The original seating capacity was for 2,835 in stalls, dress circle and balcony(upper circle) levels. In February 1931, Charlie Chaplin appeared ‘in person’ on the first night of the UK Premiere of “City Lights”, and he took a bow and spoke from the stage at the end of his silent film in a ‘talkie era. In September 1931 a variety programme played for a week starring Jeanette Macdonald and in May 1932, Richard Tauber appeared in a revival of “The Land of Smiles”. Later in 1932, the Dominion Theatre was taken over by Gaumont British Theatres and became a full time cinema. A Compton 3Manual/12Rank theatre organ was installed and there was a large cafe located over the main foyer.

Occasional live shows from 1957 included weeks of performances by Sophie Tucker and Judy Garland, which interrupted the films until the following year when 70mm was installed. The balcony(upper circle) seating level was closed off and converted into offices, leaving the cinema with its current 2,172 seats in stalls and dress circle levels. A new projection box was built at the rear of the orchestra stalls and it began a new life as a ‘Roadshow’ cinema with the record breaking run of 4 years 22 weeks which was achieved for "South Pacific". "Cleopatra" followed for another long run and then "Sound of Music" which ran from March 1965 to June 1968.

By 1981, however, it had returned to live shows with just occasional films ("Star Wars" in 1983).

It narrowly escaped demolition around 1990 but was saved, restored, and reopened.

In 1988, the Dominion Theatre was designated a Grade II Listed building status.

Contributed by Ian Grundy, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

AdoraKiaOra on March 1, 2008 at 8:12 pm

The dominion with major building works exposing rear of auditorium and old terrace cafe.

AdoraKiaOra on March 1, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Another great shot of the ‘Exposed ’ Dominion Theatre

woody on September 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

photo of the world premiere of STAR at the Dominion in 1968

Gooper on June 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Just like in the photo above, I saw ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ here in 1970, a splendid presentation, naturally.

Ian on July 4, 2012 at 3:10 am

And for a comparison some interior shots from 1990, before restoration :–





rasLXR on March 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Michael Zoldessy posted in commentary about South Pacific I have added my post onto here. SOUTH PACIFIC AT THE DOMINION 55th Anniversary on 21st April 2013. The film ran 4 years and 22 weeks. The Dominion used one show print and one stand by print, the show print was used throughout the run apart from a few shows when the show print was sent for cleaning on those occasions the stand by was run. The projection team were awarded a special bonus by the distributor at the end of the run for their care and professionalism. I noticed John Carpenter in the documentary side by side saying how the prints of Titanic were falling to bits out of the projectors, if he had been more accurate he should have said that film is not the problem in exhibition but the lack of skilled projection staff is the problem. I ran the last show on the Dominions DP70’s (A Star Is Born with B.Streisand also 70mm print) the booth was removed and the film continued the next day from the new booth with Vic 8s at the rear of the circle. This was the 3rd booth in the Dominion the original at the rear of the upper balcony was closed for South Pacific and onward due to the rake. The original booth is still there. R

3payne on April 23, 2013 at 6:54 am

My father was manager of this cinema late 1950’s possibly early 1960’s…he met several stars Judy garland etc..

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