Focus Cinemas

77-79 The Concourse,
Southway,
Skelmersdale, WN8 6HD

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Located in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. In late-1971, it was announced that the American based Network Cinema Corporation, which Jerry Lewis was a major shareholder, were planning a chain of Jerry Lewis Cinemas in the UK. Opened in 1973 as the Oscar 1 & 2 Cinemas, as almost as soon as they were opened, former boxing champion Billy Walker had purchased the Jerry Lewis franchise in the UK (only two cinemas had been built, the first was in Corby, Northamptonshire, out of a planned 32 cinemas). Within a year of opening it had been renamed Focus Cinemas, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, CA objected to the name ‘Oscar’ being used.

Built under the bus station, the screens were side by side and seating was provided for 230 and 248, and it was equipped with Phillips FP 20 projectors and a Western Electric(WE) sound system.

By 1980, it had become part of the Brent Walker Cinemas chain. In 1982, Brent Walker put their circuit up ‘For Sale’. The Skelmersdale Focus Cinemas were sold for 1p (one penny!) to Les Castree, a cinema engineer and former proprietor of the Stone Picture House. The Focus Cinemas were then sold to Preston Film Sevices, an equipment dealer with no experience of running a cinema. They removed the projection equipment and installed inferior equipment, which ran on-and-off for a couple of months until the cinema was closed, and went over to a bingo club operation.

Today other businesses operate from the building.

Contributed by Ken Roe, Paul Halpin
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