9 Angel Row,
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Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Ritz Cinema, Odeon 1 & 2, Odeon Film Centre
News About This Theater
- Mar 2, 2010 — Happy 45th, "The Sound Of Music"
Built for and originally operated by the County Cinemas chain, this opened as the Ritz Cinema. Local architect Albert J. Thraves was also brought in by the main architects Verity & Beverley.
The main façade on busy Angel Row was narrow and gave no indication to the size of the vast auditorium that lay behind it. The Ritz Cinema was fully equipped with a large stage, a Conacher 4Manual/22Rank theatre organ which was designed by organist Reginald Foort (who opened the instrument) and a large café/restaurant. The opening film on 4th December 1933 was “The Private Lives of Henry VIII” starring Charles Laughton.
Odeon Theatres Ltd. gained a controlling interest in County Cinemas from 1935 and took full control in 1939, but the Ritz Cinema retained its name until 1944 when it was re-named Odeon.
The Conacher organ was last used during the run of the Todd A.O. production of “South Pacific” and was removed from the theatre in 1964 and split up. The stage was used less often in later years, but did get a short term re-use in the early-1960’s when pop groups such as The Beatles played in concerts to packed houses in the theatre.
The final film screened in the original single screen auditorium was Sean Connery in “Goldfinger” on November 15, 1974 and on November 16, 1974 the final stage show featured The Searchers, Dionne Warwick & The Zombies". The original auditorium was destroyed when the Odeon became the first cinema in the United Kingdom to be split into a twin screen operation. The architectural firm Harry W. Weedon Partnership were responsible for the conversion, with Trevor Stone & Mavis Stone the interior design consultants. It re-opened on 12th July 1965 with two modern curtain walled auditoriums. The upper Odeon 1 in the former circle had 924 seats and was designed as a showcase for roadshow presentations and opened with Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”. The Odeon 2 screen in the former orchestra stalls level had 1,450 seats and played regular releases, opening with Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins”.
Odeon 2 was further sub-divided in 1976 when it was made into 3 screens seating 500, 130 and 110. A new screen, Odeon 5 was fitted into a former basement reception room and had 101 seats. In 1988 another room in the basement was made into Odeon 6 which seated 90 persons.
The Odeon 1-6 closed on 26th January 2001 and stood unused until September 2012, when demolition commenced. A hotel, apartments, shops and a car park are planned for the site. In 2022 a Taco Bell occupies the site which housed the former entrance to the Odeon.
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