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Located in Leeds city centre at the junction of Quebec Street and Wellington Street, by City Square. Opened on 5th June 1922 with Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess in D.W. Griffith’s “Way Down East”. Over 50,000 people attended the Majestic Picture Theatre in its first week of operation. It was designed by architects Pascal J. Stienlet of Newcastle upon Tyne and J.C. Maxwell, and built for Leeds Picture Playhouse Ltd.
The Majestic Picture Theatre suited its name entirely. The wide spacious auditorium, with a single balcony seated 2,500 and was richly decorated with wall motifs and an enormous plaster frieze. It had its own symphony orchestra conducted by Francois Grandpierre and a grand organ which was built by Messrs Vincent of Sunderland, which had 3Manuals and 33 speaking stops. The projection box was located in the rear stalls beneath the balcony. The cinema also contained a restaurant and there was a ballroom in the basement.
Together with the 1911 Picture House (demolished) and the 1932 Paramount Theatre (later Odeon Headrow closed 2001), the Majestic Cinema was one of the premiere cinemas in the city throughout its life.
It was taken over by the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT) chain in December 1925, and they were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in February 1929. “South Pacific” had a 38 weeks run from September 1958, and in 1965 “The Sound of Music” had a long run.
The Majestic Cinema was closed by the Rank Organisation on 10th July 1969, after the Odeon (ex Paramount) had been twinned. The final film was Clint Eastwood in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. The Majestic Cinema immediately became a Top Rank Bingo Club, later operating as a twin when the former Majestic Ballroom was also converted into a bingo club. The bingo club closed in 1996.
In 1997 it became a popular nightclub known as the Majestyk, with another nightclub Jumpin' Jacks located in the former ballroom in the basement.
The Majestyk Nightclub was closed in late-2008, and became a concert venue, with Jumpin' Jacks continuing as a nightclub. Proposals to convert the building into a casino were refused and went to appeal in June 2009.
In 2012 windows were punched into the ground floor level in a refurbishment of the exterior. With many of the original decorative features retained, the main auditorium was renovated and converted into retail units with intent for the building to have mixed uses. The building was vacant, with the retail units not yet leased, when on the evening of 30th September 2014, the former Majestic Theatre was badly damaged in an arson fire which destroyed most of the interior. The outer walls were considered to be safe and not in danger of collapse. In October 2018 construction work began to convert the building into office space within the original exterior walls. In April 2019 it was announced the building would become the Leeds headquarters for Channel 4 television channel.
Since 14th June 1993, the Majestic Cinema has been designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.
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