Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
45 Queen Caroline Street,
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Located in the west London inner-city suburb of Hammersmith. This is one of the UK’s largest and best-preserved super cinemas. Designed by architect Robert Cromie for a joint collaboration between exhibitor Israel Davis and the Gaumont British Theatres chain (in 1928 he designed the magnificent Davis Theatre, Croydon for Israel Davis). The Gaumont Palace opened on 28th March 1932 with 3,487 seats, the opening programme was Tom Walls in “A Night Like This” and Helen Twelvetrees in “Bad Company”. It was equipped with a large stage that is 35 feet deep, which has proved to be the buildings reason for survival. The proscenium is 63 feet wide and there are twenty dressing rooms. The Gaumont Palace is also equipped with a Compton 4Manual/15Ranks theatre organ. There was also a cafe/restaurant located on the balcony foyer area.
The enormous width (192 feet) of the site allowed Cromie to provide an excellent fan shaped auditorium which for its size is remarkably intimate. The rear of the circle is 170 feet wide and the circle only overhangs the stalls by 10-12 rows providing excellent sightlines from all parts of the house.
The Art Deco style decoration in such a large auditorium is slightly underpowered but nevertheless this is an outstanding, nearly unaltered, example of cinema architecture and is Robert Cromie’s finest surviving cinema.
It now seats 3,419 with standing room for 302 more. It is well used for concerts, opera, ballet and musicals. (“Riverdance” had a two-year run here).
The building was renamed Odeon in 1962 and it screened its last regular film as a full-time cinema on 8th August 1984, Roy Scheider in “Blue Thunder”. Live shows/concerts became the main programme content, with occasional films slotted in to fill empty dates, such as in 1988, when “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Imagine” were a couple of examples. It became the Apollo in 1992. It is available for sponsorship and the name gets the sponsor prefixing the Apollo (e.g. Labatt’s Apollo or Carling Apollo) in recent years.
By 2005 it was operated by Clear Channel, they were encouraged by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Cinema Theatre Association to reinstate the original Compton organ console which had been removed from the building and put into storage in the 1990’s. The organ chambers were retained in the building and now with it’s console connected up again it is now playable. From June 2007, the theatre was operated by the MAMA Group. In December 2009, the theatre was equipped with 2K digital projectors and a collapsible screen. It was taken over by HMV, and in 2012 was taken over by the German/American company Stage C, who purchased the building for £32 million.
In June 2013 the theatre was closed to enable a complete 5 million Pounds renovation and restoration to the plans of architectural firm Foster Wilson, bringing the building back to its original 1932 condition. The work restored the original foyer floor mosaic panels, long covered by carpet. Black paint was removed from the Art Deco style windows so that light can once again flood the circle bar and foyer. The theatre’s interior was repainted in the original colour scheme of green, mauve and black. There are new bars, and seats in the stalls and seats in the circle have been raised and reupholstered to improve comfort and legroom. Two marble staircases concealed beneath the extended stage for many years have been uncovered. It re-opened on 7th September 2013 with a concert by Selena Gomez and is re-named Eventim Apollo as it is now owned by AEG Live and German ticket vending company CTS Eventim. On 24th April 2017 the European Premiere of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” was held in the theatre.
The Hammersmith Apollo was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage in 1990. This was upgraded to a Grade II* Listed building status in 2005.
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