30 Holloway Circus, Queensway,
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Previously operated by: Cinecenta, Rank Organisation
Architects: James A. Roberts
Previous Names: Scala Superama Cinema, Odeon Ringway
The Scala Superama Cinema was built as a replacement for the old 1914 Scala Theatre which had been closed in 1960. Contained in a new office block named Scala House, the cinema was a project of Compton Films Ltd. who distributed sex orientated foreign films and operated sex cinemas and cinema clubs in London. The Scala Superama was designed as a ‘Roadshow’ house, together with the new Superama Cinema in Derby.
The Birmingham Scala Superama Cinema opened on 23rd November 1964 with a double (X) certificate programme: James Aubrey in “Lord of the Flies” & Kenneth Moore in “The Comedy Man”. All seating was in a stadium style on a single stepped floor and it was equipped for 35mm and 70mm presentations. It was taken over by the Rank Organisation from 22nd February 1970 and re-named Odeon Ringway (due to its location close to Smallbrook Ringway).
It was re-named Odeon Queensway in June 1972 and re-furbished in 1983. It was at this time that the Cinecenta twin cinema next door was taken over by the Rank organisation and was incorporated into the Odeon Queensway.
The cinemas closed on 18th September 1988 and have remained empty and unused ever since.
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Recent comments (view all 13 comments)
Nicky; You must have explored down into the original single screen. I never went to the Odeon Queensway, so can’t be sure whether the two extra screens that were formed out of the former Cinecenta Cinemas next door still kept their original seperate street entrance or if an opening was made in the walls at foyer level (or lower down) to allow access to all three screens.
I think so, the only entrance I could find is the glass one that goes onto the ring way (in the photo), and by the screen it’s all flooded so I can’t venture behind it..
How do you get permission to “explore” the cinema? I would love to go down and have a look and maybe take some pictures.
Is the seating and screen still intact?
I went to the Cinecenta next door (I think) when it was an American themed nightclub in 1993. It looked to me like it was one of the screens or maybe the two knocked together. All I remember is walking down some stairs to it….
I seem to recall that the entrances at street level were amalgamated but that you still went down a separate staircase to the two tiny Cinecenta screens.
In the 70s and 80s this was the best cinema in Brum – it had a well proportioned auditorium and good picture and sound. We used to wait for films to move from the Gaumont where 35mm films strained to fill the giant screen.
The 1983 refurb followed a fire caused by a dropped cigarette end in the auditorium – couldn’t happen today!
Rare-ish photo here chasps:– http://www.pbase.com/beppuu/image/92164027
There are a number of new local history sites springing up in my home(West Midlands) area. May be able to find a few more as we go on.
I attended the last screening at the Queensway in 1988 – they showed a very worn print of ‘Return of the Jedi’.
The cinema is briefly glimpsed in episode 4 of the 1976 BBC drama series ‘Gangsters’ (recently issued on DVD and worth a look for its Birmingham locations). The cinema is showing ‘At the Earth’s Core’ – which was suprisingly an ‘A’ certificate.
Photos from 1988 here:–
The James A Roberts architects practice designed the structure of the cinema plus all of the Queensway They employed Modernisation Ltd., The John Freeze-Greene company to designed and the fitout the interiors of both cinemas
Grand opening article: Scala Superama opening 23 Nov 1964, Mon Birmingham Evening Mail and Despatch (Birmingham, West Midlands, England) Newspapers.com
Scala Superama opening ad 23 Nov 1964, Mon Birmingham Evening Mail and Despatch (Birmingham, West Midlands, England) Newspapers.com