Reel 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 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.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 125 comments)

jbn6773 on March 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

After opening screen 4 in unused space on the first floor, Mr Suri now plans to create a 5th screen in the former shop space on the ground floor. Although this will only seat 40, it will increase the viewing options and hopefully allow the continued operation of this cinema. The space had been previously been earmarked for conversion into an Indian restaurant and is subject to planning approval. ODEON bosses take note: you can adapt !!!!! rather than call it a day and walk away

jbn6773 on March 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Its also understood that further work in Screen 1 will include increasing legroom in the central area of the auditorium, this will be done sometime in the Autumn, the rolling restoration of this cinema will now take about 3 years instead of 2, due to the current financial situation. At least Mr Suri is putting his money where his mouth is. 10/10 so far

jbn6773 on March 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Apologies, screen 4 seats 40, the proposed capacity for Screen 5 has not been announced

davepring on June 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Screen 5 has a capacity of 35. 3D equipment has now been installed in screen 1 and is due to be installed in screen 2

Trousercowboy on February 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Photos from 2009 here – after the Odeon closed and before The Reel opened:

View link

TLSLOEWS on March 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thanks for posting the photos Ian and Trousercowboy.Very nice looking theatre.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on May 14, 2013 at 3:20 am

The capacity given here cannot be correct. The main screen seats around 800, the two smaller cinemas beneath seat around 110 each while the little cinemas, 4 and 5, seat around 35/40 each so, I estimate, something less than 1,100 in total. 1,484 was the capacity given for the Odeon, York at opening and I can only assume someone has transferred this figure in error. A great deal has happened, internally, to this building since 1937 and the “complex” of today is world’s away from the fondly remembered Odeon Theatre.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on June 22, 2017 at 6:06 am

Everyman are to buy the lease from Reel, they will take over in August and a genuine restoration/refurbishment is planned this time from September to December.

Everyman’s plans for the erstwhile Odeon are mouth-watering. A restaurant and bar will be provided along with reseating, recarpeting and new toilets/rest rooms. Detailed research has enabled new front doors to be made which will replicate the ‘30s originals and at least the largest auditorium will have opulent stage drapes and appropriate lighting.

Judging by what Everyman have achieved with acquired former Odeons at places like Esher and Muswell Hill, there is much to look forward to. Even the contentious and dilapidated Odeon sign high on the fa├žade will have a new lease of life as the central ‘E’ will be restored with red LED lighting as the initial of the new name to complement a white name sign mounted on the canopy edge.

Tickets will be more expensive than Reel and we will get what we pay for, a Blossom Street cinema we can once again be proud of.

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.

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