Haymarket and St. James's Market,
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The former Gaumont Haymarket (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures) was completely gutted and most of the space turned into offices, but a basement cinema was included in the rebuild, which opened on June 4, 1962 as the Odeon Haymarket. The opening film was an exclusive run of of Anthony Quinn in “Barabbas”, which was presented in 70mm and ran for over six months.
Seating 600 on a stadium plan, the cinema was designed by architect Leslie C. Norton. It suffered from having a fairly obscure corner entrance (facing away from Coventry Street), but was very comfortable and distributors would often hold a film over to open it here on an exclusive run. On 30th March 1967 the British Premiere of “A Man for All Seasons” was held and began a long run.
The side walls sloped in at an angle of about 10 degrees, hung with panels of Thai silk, and the ceiling had a honeycomb pattern of holes. An unusual feature was the double set of festoon (waterfall) curtains.
The Odeon closed on 14th January 1999 for ‘renovation’. In October 1999 ‘Time Out’ magazine listed the Odeon Haymarket playing the Pedro Almodovar directed film “All About My Mother”. A new style ‘Odeon’ sign (one of the first) was placed on the front of the building. The Odeon was closed in January 2000, and the sign was later removed. After laying empty for several years, work began on stripping out the building. Work was halted for a long period of time when a huge amount of asbestos materials were found. Apparently it was gutted back to the bare brick walls and there were plans put forward in 2007 to open it as a lap-dancing club, but this never happened. The building remains boarded up in 2020.
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