2 Queens Quay,
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Cineworld Cinemas UK (Official)
Operated by: Cineworld
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Previous Names: Warner Village Cinemas, Vue Cinemas, Storm Cinemas, Odyssey Cinemas Belfast
The Odyssey - in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter - was Northern Ireland’s ‘Millennium Project’. The landmark development opened in 2000 and cost £90 million. Owned by the Odyssey Trust, the Odyssey complex comprises the Odyssey Pavilion, SSE Arena and W5 interactive science and discovery centre. Cinema on this particular site can be traced back to 17th June 2001 when Warner Village Cinemas opened a 12 screen theatre here. It was the city’s largest cinema with seating for 3,040. The largest screen had 476-seats, the smallest screen 155-seats. There were three VIP screens and an exclusive Directors Lounge which offered panoramic views of the Belfast skyline and riverfront.
Before 2001 was over, an IMAX screen had also opened at the Odyssey. It only lasted until 2007. The IMAX was in a different part of the Pavilion though and it was run by a separate company (see the Cinema Treasures page for the Sheridan IMAX Belfast.
In May 2003 the Warner Village Cinemas chain was acquired by SBC International Cinemas. While most of the cinemas, from March 2004, were rebranded as Vue (a new name!), the Belfast cinema continued to trade as Warner Village Cinemas. By April 2006 it had changed hands again when Village Cinemas took over (but still retaining the Vue website). This move appears to have been a precursor for the subleasing of the cinema to Storm, a burgeoning Irish independent with 5 cinemas in the Irish Republic.
The first press advertisements for Storm Cinemas appeared on 2nd June 2006. Following a dispute between Storm and Village Roadshow (the master leaseholder) which reached Belfast’s High Court, by 4th June 2010 the cinema had reverted to Village Roadshow ownership. It was immediately rebranded as Odyssey Cinema, and a new company, Village-Theatres 3 Ltd, set up to run the cinema.
An interesting side-story to the above is the 2014 bid by Omniplex, Ireland’s largest cinema chain to take over the lease of the entire Odyssey Pavilion which had gone into administration in 2010. If their bid was successful, Omniplex made it clear they would rebrand the cinema and run it themselves. The Odyssey Trust rejected the Omniplex offer, which was reported to be too low.
The lease of the Pavilion having been acquired by Matagorda 2 in 2016, a major development then took place with two anchor tenants signed up - Hollywood Bowl taking over the Odyssey Bowl (previously operated by Movie House Cinemas since 2010) and Cineworld taking over the former Odyssey Cinemas unit. The original plan was to close each screen one-by-one, for refurbishment, while the other screens were kept operational during the year and more it would take to carry out. Then along came the Covid-19 pandemic and all Belfast cinemas were ordered to close on 17th March 2020. Even when other cinemas re-opened, Odyssey Cinema remained closed for the duration until it was rebranded Cineworld, opening its doors on 10th December 2021 as the Cineworld Belfast. The 13-screen cinema includes an IMAX Laser auditorium, a multi-sensory 4DX cinema experience, a Screen X, a 270-degree wrap-around screen. The 4DX and Screen X are firsts for Northern Ireland. The Cineworld is the first in the chain to be operated by the company in Northern Ireland.
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