Everyman York

Blossom Street,
York, YO24 1AJ

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Reel York

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Like Chester, the historic town of York proved problematic for Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain in 1937, when they wanted to open a cinema. The City Council insisted that it was to be located outside the city walls and that it did not look like an Odeon with typical faiance tiling. Accordingly Robert Bullivant, of the Harry Weedon architectural practice, came up with a more refined brick scheme – which still managed to look like an Odeon. It opened February 1, 1937 with Roland Young in “The Man Who Could Work Miracles”.

Seating 1,484 in stalls and balcony levels it proved successful and in 1972 was tripled. This was not a standard scheme as at York the circle was extended forward to form a stadium style 820 seater – very attractively (original decor was retained). There were then two 111 seat minis under the former balcony.

In 1981, the Odeon was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

Recent troubles began when Odeon Theatres wanted to re-brand the cinema with new signage, removing the original ‘ODEON’ signs from the Grade II Listed building. But the local Council insisted that everything should remain intact. This led to threats by Odeon Theatres to close down, despite good attendances. The reality of closure came on 31st August 2006.

In June 2007, the building was purchased by Reel Cinemas, who refurbished the cinema, restoring many original features. The cinema re-opened as the Reel Cinema on 19th June 2009, with a black tie gala and the appropriately named film “Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen” showing on the main 880 seat screen upstairs.

In early-2010, a 40-seat screen 4 was opened in former unused office space, and later in 2010, a 35-seat screen 5 opened in former retail space. On 31st August 2017 it was closed for refurbishment and has been taken over by Everyman Media Group.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 134 comments)

davepring on June 28, 2017 at 8:21 am

This is good news. I hope Everyman restore the circle foyer and remove the false ceiling to reveal the decorative frieze that has been hidden for decades.

davepring on July 26, 2017 at 4:36 am

the York Press has just published details of the planning application.The main auditorium is to have a new floating screen in front of the proscenium which I think would be a shame.

terry on July 26, 2017 at 10:14 am

So why the change of heart regarding the opulent stage drapes and appropriate lighting? I thought that Everyman were enthusiastic about such features in their traditional venues as in the case of Muswell Hill and Esher.

Perhaps some ‘whiz kid’ has joined Everyman and the two aforementioned theatres will receive the ‘floating screen’ look also.

I detest the damned things; they are just about acceptable in mini auditoria – but in the Odeon York main auditorium?……..

RichieA70 on July 28, 2017 at 4:44 am

Everyman have done the same at the grade II listed former Odeon Barnet with a floating screen in front of the proscenium. The proscenium there is actually a copy of the original,rebuilt slightly forward of it in the 1990s in order to incorporate an additional auditorium.

Great shame none-the-less. There are fewer and fewer cinemas with curtains and tabs etc which greatly reduces the theatrical magic and reveal of the screen.

terry on July 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

As you say, RichieA70, Odeon Barnet’s screen was brought forward and raised when Rank increased the number of screens from three to five. Prior to then, of course, it had been a standard ‘drop wall’ with the original proscenium housing the main screen.

In the case of Odeon York the original proscenium remains intact for, whilst not a ‘drop wall’ conversion, the circle stepping was continued to almost the orchestra rail thereby creating a very nice stadium auditorium.

The reversal of the original scheme, which (I understand) included the retention of the proscenium and the fitting of quality house tabs, in favour of a ‘floating screen’ is indeed lamentable………

I assume that the intention is to provide a larger sheet size but, as the existing proscenium is very wide, it is a great shame to compromise the integrity of the cinema in this manner.

I hope that Everyman have a change of heart and use Muswell Hill (which looks splendid) as the ‘York Model’ as opposed to the ‘Barnet Formula’……

davepring on August 3, 2017 at 8:57 am

the main problem in Screen1 is the sightlines. With the balcony extended forward the screen had to be raised from its original position. Having read the plans it would appear that the new screen will be fixed in front of the original and backlit to enhance the original proscenium

terry on August 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm

I have to admit that I have not read the plans, davepring,but ,given the sightline issue, the floating screen will, accordingly, not have to be any lower than the existing screen.

At least the new organisation want to make a feature of the proscenium via the floating screen being backlit but, yet again, we are back to the absence of screen tabs…..

Cjbx11 on August 7, 2017 at 5:15 pm

I never quite understood why Odeon gave York such an unusual and expensive conversion. If it was just to achieve a larger capacity for Screen 1 then I would have thought seating the frount stalls would have been a Simpler and cheaper solution and would have avoided the sightline problems. Or if they were gong to go to the expencice of extending the circle why not enclose the whole upstairs area and create a stadium style cinema as ABC did at many of their cinemas.

terry on August 8, 2017 at 7:37 am

I remember York was converted in 1972 around the time of the many ‘drop wall’ Rank venues.

Ironically, in my native North East, the first such conversion was in my home town of Bishop Auckland which must have been the very smallest province where Rank were represented .

I knew the Manager, Walter Aylen, very well and he expressed his amazement that York was converted in this manner. He did say that it was good to have an 880 seat Screen 1 (that was the capacity he stated) but that they could simply have retained the front stalls seating as an ‘overflow’ area.

I dare say that Rank had a good reason for converting York (and Chester) as they did. Perhaps extra staff would have had to be deployed in the front stalls whereas the stadium plan could be served by the normal strength?

Certainly, it would have been better for the front stalls to have been retained given what Everyman now propose to do in the main auditorium. I am sure that under these circumstances they would have done a Muswell Hill type restoration with NO FLOATING SCREEN…..

FanaticalAboutOdeon on August 31, 2017 at 11:33 am

31/8/2017 The former Odeon in York, now leased to Everyman, is now closed to enable the Company’s refurbishment/restoration work to begin.

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