Academy 1-2-3

161-167 Oxford Street,
London, W1D 2JN

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Additional Info

Architects: Leslie H. Kemp

Firms: Gilbert & Constanduros

Previous Names: Picture House, Academy Cinema

Nearby Theaters

Academy 1-2-3

The Picture House opened on 25 January 1913, and was originally a single screen venue with a two-level auditorium with 601 seats; 434 in the stalls and 171 in the circle, plus stand spaces for 63. There was a ballroom located in the basement. It was re-modeled in 1929 to the plans of architect Leslie H. Kemp and the seating capacity was reduced to 534.

The building suffered bomb damage in October 1940 and didn’t re-open until 14th March 1944. In 1954 it was given a new decorative treatment, designed by photographer Angus McBean, when the auditorium was decorated in a bright red festoon patterned wallpaper.

An additional screen was built in the former basement ballroom, opening on 31st March 1965 with 404 seats. A third smaller 96-seat screen was built in disused office space, and the cinema was renamed Academy 1-2-3. It also boasted a restaurant and licenced bar.

The cinema closed permanently on 2 April 1986 screening; “Dangerous Moves”, “The Empty Table” and “The Wanderer”. It was demolished in February 1989 to make way for an office and retail development, which by 2016 had been vacated and was standing empty.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, davidpring, graememcbain

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

kevinp on August 7, 2005 at 2:27 am

I went to the last day’s screening’s there, prior to the demolition.
The supermarket chain Marks And Spencers swallowed up the space, albeit, the offices to the side is called “ Academy” Buildings.

An early picture can be found on this wonderful link.

View link


kev p

exciterlamp on May 15, 2006 at 5:17 am

For me the highlight of the year was the annual programme of the Olivier Shakespeare trilogy – “Henry V”, “Hamlet” and “Richard III”. “Henry V” on a big screen in sumptuous colour-saturated IB Technicolor never ceased to impress. It was an absolute disgrace that permission was granted to demolish this wonderful theatre.

doojeen on June 4, 2008 at 3:15 am

On my first visit to London in 1975 I saw several films in a Buster Keaton season at the Academy – a really unique experience, as they were the only silent films I’ve ever seen in a cinema, complete with live piano accompaniment. Another interesting fact about the Academy is that the basement was once a dancehall, which became the first location of the Marquee Club from 1958 to 1964.

View link

Francesco on July 9, 2010 at 9:17 am

Did the Academy show trailers? Is there any information available online as to old programmes of films and brochures etc?

Is there anyone who worked at the Academy still around to talk to?

Many thanks

academypete on February 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Hi all,

I’m researching the Academy for a book, taking in the entire history of the building, constructing a timeline of films that were shown there, a catalogue of the posters (Strausfeld, and those produced before and after him), and biographies of the key people involved in its history – Elsie Cohen, George Hoellering, Ivo Jarosy and Peter Strausfeld. I will also discuss the art cinema scene in London and distributors such as Charles & Kitty Cooper’s Contemporary Films. I’ll also discuss some of the fascinating asides to the main story: the ICA, the Marquee Club etc.

I’d really like to hear of experiences and knowledge of the place and the people, whether you worked there, you knew any of the participants or just have specific memories of movie-going. I’m also seeking imagery of the theatre over the years – any photos that may have been snapped outside or inside; also, any special items such as film notes, flyers, and of course the posters. If you have anything to share please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.



Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

In the history of the world’s greatest art house cinemas, the Academy in London must surely rank as one of the greatest.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 7, 2021 at 8:33 am

Obituary for Ivo Jarosy and his Academy Cinema(s).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 7, 2021 at 8:38 am

The first film I ever saw here was Ken Loach’s “Kes” in 1970. It was a film of stunning beauty that forever defined my memory of this cinema that premiered it.

Lionel on October 21, 2023 at 12:35 pm

The curtain frame of screen #1 looks quite narrow. How was the screen structured? Was it Cinemascope letterboxed in 1.85? Does anybody remember which aspect ratios the Academy was equipped for in its 3 screens?

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