Everyman York

Blossom Street,
York, YO24 1AJ

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Reel York

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 historic 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 on 1st February 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. It re-opened on 30th December 2017 with a reduced capacity and with 4 screens. Seating is now provided for 144, 53, 53 & 20.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 142 comments)

terry on August 8, 2017 at 10:37 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 2:33 pm

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.

Tim on December 24, 2017 at 3:38 am

Morning all, It’s been announced that the Everyman will open to the public on Saturday the 30the of December. Having had a sneak peek at the restoration the quality of the finishes is fantastic. The downstairs foyer has an island counter/bar which echoes the original ticket paybox from 1937. Missing columns in this area and also the circle foyer have been recreated to original specifications. The downstairs screens which were always a bit shoddy in my opinion have been tastefully redecorated with decorative sound proof boarding. Screen one is the main auditorium and has the floating screen which might take some getting used to in front of the former proscenium. All this area is painted in Everyman Grey with the decorative acoustic panel feature highlighted in gold. The original ventilation panels did not survive behind the boxed in areas so i’ve been told and sadly neither did the talked about mural in the circle foyer. This has been returned to it’s original double height space and a manificent trough light fixture has been restored and painted a 1930’s inspired gold.. Can’t wait to visit and give it a try..

Simon on December 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I’ve seen the new cinema. In a word- stunning. A complete turnaround after the non-existant renovation done by Reel. The Odeon is back to its former glory and will be a great cinema-going experience again. Support it.

Cjbx11 on December 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm

It looks like they have decided to closed one of the screens as they are advertising it as having 4 screens with 144 seats in screen 1, 53 seats screen 2, 53 seats screen 3 and 20 seats screen 4. I know that due to the style of Everyman cinemas there was obviously going to be a massive reduction in capacity but Screen 1 been reduced from 800 down to 144 seems a bit drastic and I do wonder how viable a 4 Screen cinema with so few seats can be.

michaelbrent on December 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm

New photographs added of the restored cinema

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 27, 2017 at 6:12 am

Cjbx11, I suspect the first floor level tiny cinema, which Reel “shoehorned” into what was originally a stockroom for the shop unit on the ground floor below, could well have been dismantled in order to provide the new restaurant in the circle lounge with a baking/prepping space.

The reduction in capacity in Screen 1 is not as drastic as it first appears. The 1972 extension of the balcony has been removed and it would appear from comparing photographs that even 1937’s balcony has been foreshortened, therefore the space available for seating is now also much reduced. This means the sighting problems due to obstructions will have gone. The desire for a larger screen in front of the proscenium arch is possibly down to two factors. Firstly, the reduced seating area provides the same viewing position as the original rear circle where seating was at its farthest from the screen and from where the big screen did appear relatively small (the throw from projector to screen was 110' in Odeon days) – whereas today’s cinemagoers are accustomed to screens appearing somewhat larger. Secondly, the proscenium arch was reduced in height by almost 2' during 1964’s modernisation scheme and this would limit the possible size of the new screen were it to be positioned within the arch as, ideally, it should be.

Given the misguided 1972 extension to the balcony is now history, could it be that the space in the old front stalls area may yet still become additional capacity for screen 1 with access possibly at ground floor level as at Muswell Hill? 144 seats must inevitably limit potential viability when Bond, Star Wars and other hugely popular blockbusters are programmed.

Simon on December 29, 2017 at 6:31 pm

New photos added

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 3, 2018 at 7:37 pm

The former front stalls area is now carpeted in mid grey and a platform/stage is planned in front of the suspended screen to facilitate interviews/Q + A sessions and performance.

The Odeon proscenium arch is hidden behind the screen frame which is positioned level with the first concealed lighting trough forward of the pros. Because of the type of seating used in the auditoria, two echelons are unused between Screen One’s current back row and the rear wall/projection portholes as sightlines would be restricted. I’m told the capacity of 144 will likely be increased once the two echelons have been increased in height up. Black curtains hang within the proscenium arch which can be seen by using the stairs at either side of the screen which lead to the former front stalls exits.

When the screen is blank, Screen One is quite dark and shadowy but I believe Everyman plan some kind of lighting feature here. The ground floor tiny screen which Reel put in is dismantled and will be replaced by “Spielburgers” restaurant.

The car park is yet to open and is full of skips which suggests a work still in progress to some extent.

The main foyer and circle lounge are nothing short of sumptuous, seating everywhere is very comfortable and plentiful and the numerous staff members could not be more welcoming and helpful.

Ian on January 17, 2018 at 5:19 am

Some photos of the reopened Everyman Cinema taken on January 2018 here (I echo the sumptuous design and helpfulness of the staff comments made by FanacticalAboutOdeon):–






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