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Odeon Cinemas

Odeon Cinemas
Founded 1928
Founder Oscar Deutsch
Number of locations
114 (United Kingdom)
10 (Ireland)
Area served
United Kingdom and Ireland
Key people
Paul Donovan (Group Chief executive officer)
Owner Terra Firma Capital Partners
Parent Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group

Odeon Cinemas is a British chain of cinemas operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company is one of the largest cinema chains in Europe. It retains the brand name of the Odeon cinema circuit first used in Britain in 1930. However it is today owned by and operated by Odeon UCI Cinemas Group and hardly resembles the past Odeon chain. UCI's ultimate parent is Terra Firma Capital Partners.

The first Odeon cinema was opened by Oscar Deutsch in 1928, in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands, although initially called "Picture House". The first cinema to use the Odeon brand name was Deutsch's cinema at Perry Barr, Birmingham in 1930. Through a number of sales and acquisitions, the company expanded and in 2004 was purchased by its current owners Terra Firma Capital Partners. Terra Firma merged Odeon with UCI Cinemas to form Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group.



Odeon Cinemas was created in 1928 by Oscar Deutsch. Odeon publicists liked to claim that the name of the cinemas was derived from his motto, "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation",[1] but it had been used for cinemas in France and Italy in the 1920s, and the word is actually Ancient Greek.[2] The name "Nickelodeon" was coined in 1905 and was widely used to describe small cinemas in the United States during that era.

However the company is most associated with J. Arthur Rank, the owner for the longest period in its history.

The first cinema opened by Oscar Deutsch was located in Brierley Hill, England in 1928.[3] The building has long since been demolished, but as of 2006, the former UCI Cinema (built in the 1980s as an AMC multiplex) at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre in Brierley Hill was refurbished as an Odeon Cinema. However, its style is more functional than that of original Odeon cinemas, with the Company now being managed by the largely multiplex style UCI group.

The first cinema that opened under the "Odeon" brand was located in Perry Barr, Birmingham.[4][5] It was designed by Harry Weedon. The frontage was remodelled following damage sustained during the Second World War and, having been a bingo hall, has since been converted into a conference venue.


By 1930, "Odeon" was a household name and the cinemas known for their maritime-inspired Art Deco architecture. This style was first used in 1930 on the cinema at Perry Barr in Birmingham, which was bought by Deutsch to expand the chain. He liked the style so much that he commissioned the architect, Harry Weedon, to design his future buildings.[6] George Coles was also one of their principal architects, remodelling a partially complete assembly hall in Portslade and designing his first purpose-built cinema in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, Kent which opened on 22 October 1934 and closed on 22 October 1960. It is currently a bingo club in the Mecca chain. It featured central linear lighting, a feature that became characteristic of his work.

In 1935, Oscar Deutsch commissioned John Maltby (1910–80), a professional photographer, to photograph every cinema in the Odeon chain at that time. The resulting collection, of internal and external photographs, is held in the public archive of English Heritage and can be seen online.

Deutsch sold the chain to the business interests of J. Arthur Rank, who was in the process of forming the Rank Organisation.

By the time of Oscar Deutsch's death in 1941, 258 Odeons had opened throughout Britain.[7] After the sale to J. Arthur Rank Corporation, Odeon also operated a wholly owned Canadian subsidiary, Odeon Theatres (Canada) Ltd., with more than a hundred cinemas in Canada, coast-to-coast. The head office of Odeon Canada was in Toronto, and later, the north Toronto suburb of Willowdale, Ontario. This business was sold in 1978 to the Canadian Theatres chain and became Canadian Odeon Theatres, then was sold again in 1984 to Cineplex, forming Cineplex Odeon (now, once again, Cineplex). It also owned fifty percent of an Australian subsidiary, Greater Union Organisation, based in Sydney, with dozens of cinemas across Australia. The Rank Organisation's share of Greater Union Organisation was sold to Amalgamated Holdings Ltd., an Australian company, also in 1984; Greater Union Organisation is now known as Event Cinemas.

Each Odeon cinema had a character different from most other cinemas in the UK, often having a unique and spectacular interior. They also ran their own advertising company, called Rank Screen Advertising, in competition with the UK market leader Pearl & Dean, which it eventually overtook. Rank Screen Advertising was later taken over by Carlton and became Carlton Screen Advertising. In 2008, Odeon, along with rival chain Cineworld, bought back the company and today it is known as Digital Cinema Media.

A smaller number of Odeon cinemas opened in the post-war years (Odeon Marble Arch and Odeon Elephant & Castle being notable instances), but many single-screen cinemas either closed, sub-divided into smaller screens or were converted into other uses, such as bingo.

Present day

Since the turn of the century, Odeon has undergone a series of sales after The Rank Group needed cash injections to reduce their debt, firstly to Cinven which merged Odeon with Cinven's ABC Cinemas. In 2004, the chain was purchased by Terra Firma and merged with United Cinemas International to produce the largest cinema chain in Europe.[8] As a condition of the merger (imposed by the Office of Fair Trading), Odeon's Newcastle upon Tyne, Sutton Coldfield, Poole, Quinton, Hemel Hempstead and Bromley cinemas were sold to Empire Cinemas. Many smaller, older cinemas such as Odeon Grimsby on Freeman Street were closed to keep market-share within legal limits. The remaining UCI cinemas, including thefilmworks brands, were rebranded as Odeon from 4 November 2005.

File:Odeon merry hill.jpg
An Odeon Cinema at Westfield Merry Hill, Brierley Hill, West Midlands

UCI cinemas in Ireland have also joined the Odeon chain, and while they initially retained the UCI brand name, evidence of the merger became apparent, for example when booking tickets by credit card, the name "Odeon" appears, as well as some dual branded campaigns. The Odeon in-house film review magazine, "Onscreen", is now also distributed in UCI cinemas, retaining the Odeon logo font throughout. In August 2007, UCI launched a new Irish website with an identical layout to This website stated that the Irish cinemas were sold to an Irish group, Entertainment Enterprises, in September 2006. This transaction went unreported in the Irish media. It also stated that the cinemas remain part of the Odeon chain under a management contract. Rank/Odeon previously ran cinemas in Ireland (including the flagship, the Savoy Cinema in O'Connell Street) until 1982, when they were purchased by Ward Anderson. In April 2008, Entertainment Enterprises announced that it purchased the Irish assets of Storm Cinemas, and as with the existing UCI chain, would be contracting the running of the cinemas to Odeon. On 31 May 2011, Odeon announced that it had bought back the UCI chain in Ireland (including the Storm Cinemas-branded locations) from Entertainment Enterprises.[9] Odeon rebranded all of its Irish cinemas under the Odeon brand during 2012; the first rebranded cinema reopened on 27 March 2012.[10]

In Bradford, England there has been a concerted effort to save the Bradford Odeon, which closed in 2000. Bradford City Council have plans to demolish the art-deco building and replace it with a new complex of shops and offices. Campaigners have made seven separate attempts to have the building listed, all of which have been rejected. A poll cited on BBC Radio Leeds showed the majority of city residents wished to save the Odeon.

In 2007 Odeon acquired 10 cinemas in Italy.[11] It is now the largest cinema chain in Europe.[12] In March 2012, the Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group under Terra Firma's control reported a £70 million loss for the year 2011, as posted on Companies House.

Terra Firma announced in February 2015 that it planned to sell Odeon and UCI Cinemas for around £1 billion. The company also suggested it may list the cinema group on the London Stock Exchange.[13]


Odeon is currently the largest cinema chain in Britain in terms of sites, however it has fallen to the third most popular cinema in terms of admissions under UCI Group's ownership after years of being the Market Leader under the previous management of Rank and Cinven. Odeon have plans for further expansion within the UK and have announced they will be operating an eight-screen cinema at New Square, West Bromwich.[14]

Many Odeon cinemas have a Costa Coffee shop, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream kiosk, a bar area and an IMAX auditorium.

United Kingdom

Location Screens Sound Other
Andover 5 Digital AES Sound Screen 5 has restricted viewing
Aylesbury 6 Digital AES Sound
Ayr 4 Digital AES Sound
Banbury 2 Digital AES Sound
Barnet 5 Digital AES Sound
Basingstoke 10 Digital AES Sound
Bath 8 Digital AES Sound
Beckenham 6 Digital AES Sound Cinema has height restricted Row/Seat numbers
Belfast 8 Digital AES Sound
BFI London IMAX 1 11,600-watt digital surround-sound system The BFI IMAX is the biggest cinema screen in the UK
Birmingham – Broadway Plaza 11 + 1 Isense (IMAX) Dolby Surround Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Birmingham Odeon – New Street 8 Digital AES Sound
Blackpool 10 Digital AES Sound
Bournemouth (ABC) 3 Digital AES Sound
Bournemouth (ODEON) 6 Digital AES Sound
Bracknell 10 Digital AES Sound
Braehead 11 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Bridgend 9 Digital AES Sound
Brighton 8 Digital AES Sound
Bristol 3 Digital AES Sound
Bromborough 7 Digital AES Sound Screens 1, 2 and 5 contains VIP seats.
Camden 5 Digital AES Sound
Canterbury 2 Digital AES Sound
Cardiff 18 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Chatham 9 Digital AES Sound
Chelmsford 8 Digital AES Sound
Colchester 8 Digital AES Sound Some seats have restricted leg room
Corby Construction stopped until further notice [1] )
Covent Garden 4 Digital AES Sound
Coventry 9 Digital AES Sound
Crewe 5 Digital AES Sound
Darlington 3 Digital AES Sound
Derby 10 Digital AES Sound
Dorchester 3 Digital AES Sound
Dudley (Merry Hill) 10 Digital AES Sound
Dumfries 1 Digital AES Sound
Dundee 10 Digital AES Sound
Dunfermline 10 Digital AES Sound
East Kilbride 9 Digital AES Sound
Edinburgh – Lothian Road 4 Digital AES Sound
Edinburgh – Wester Hailes 8 Digital AES Sound
Edinburgh – Fort Kinnaird 7 Digital AES Sound/ 1 x Dolby ATMOS Sound System Opened 20th March 2015
Epsom 8 Digital AES Sound
Esher 4 Digital AES Sound
Exeter 4 Digital AES Sound
Gerrards Cross 2 Digital AES Sound
Glasgow Quay 12 Digital AES Sound
Great Yarmouth 8 (opening May 2015)
Greenwich 16 + 2 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Guildford 9 Digital AES Sound Some seats are height restricted
Harrogate 5 Digital AES Sound Some seats are height restricted
Hartlepool Building derelict awaiting restoration, Grade Two listed
Hastings 4 Digital AES Sound
Hatfield 9 Digital AES Sound
Hereford 6 Digital AES Sound
Holloway 8 Digital AES Sound
Huddersfield 9 Digital AES Sound
Hull 10 Digital AES Sound
Kensington 6 Digital AES Sound
Kettering 8 Digital AES Sound
Kilmarnock 8 Digital AES Sound
Kingston 13 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Lee Valley 12 Digital AES Sound
Leeds-Bradford 13 Digital AES Sound
Leicester 12 Digital AES Sound
Lincoln 9 Digital AES Sound
Liverpool (opening soon, as part of Central Village plans)
Liverpool ONE 17 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Liverpool – Switch Island 12 Digital AES Sound
Llanelli 5 Dolby CP750 Digital sound
London – Leicester Square 1 + 5 studios Digital AES Sound Screen 1 is the largest single-screen cinema in the UK with 1683 seats.
London - Marble Arch 5 Digital AES Sound
London – West End 2 Digital AES Sound Currently closed for refurbishment, reopens in 2018.
Loughborough 6 Digital AES Sound Some seats have height restrictions
Maidenhead 10 Digital AES Sound
Maidstone 8 Digital AES Sound
Manchester 22 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONNICS
Mansfield 8 Digital AES Sound
MetroCentre 16 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Milton Keynes – Midsummer Boulevard 10 Digital AES Sound Closed 26 February 2015
Milton Keynes – Stadium MK 10 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ 2 x Dolby ATMOS Sound System/ IMAX SONICS Opened 27 February 2015
Muswell Hill 3 Digital AES Sound
Newark 5 Digital AES Sound
Norwich 17 +1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Nuneaton 8 Digital AES Sound
Oxford – George Street 6 Digital AES Sound
Oxford – Magdalen Street 2 Digital AES Sound
Panton St 4 Digital AES Sound
Plymouth (opening soon)
Port Solent 6 Digital AES Sound
Preston 10 Digital AES Sound
Putney 3 Digital AES Sound
Richmond, London 7 Digital AES Sound Cinema is at 2 locations
Rochdale 9 Digital AES Sound
Rotherham 10 (opening June 2015)
Salisbury 5 Digital AES Sound
Sheffield 10 Digital AES Sound
Silverlink (Wallsend) 9 Digital AES Sound
South Woodford 7 Digital AES Sound
Southampton 12 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Southend 8 Digital AES Sound
Stoke 10 Digital AES Sound
Streatham 8 Digital AES Sound
Surrey Quays 9 Digital AES Sound
Swadlincote 5 Digital AES Sound
Swansea 10 Digital AES Sound
Swiss Cottage 4 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Tamworth 10 Digital AES Sound
Taunton 8 Digital AES Sound
Telford – Foregate 10 Digital AES Sound
Telford – Central Square 9 proposed (Opening 2016?)
Tottenham Court Road 3 Digital AES Sound
Trafford Centre 19 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Trowbridge 7 Dolby digital surround sound
Tunbridge Wells 9 Digital AES Sound
Uxbridge 8 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Warrington 10 Digital AES Sound
West Bromwich 5 Digital AES Sound
Weston-super-Mare 4 Digital AES Sound
Whiteleys 4 Digital AES Sound
Whiteleys - The Lounge 5 Digital AES Sound Luxury cinema only for 18+
Wimbledon 11 + 1 IMAX Digital AES Sound/ IMAX SONICS
Worcester 7 Digital AES Sound
Wrexham – Eagles Meadow 8 Digital AES Sound



Website accessibility

For an extended period the Odeon cinema listings website was accessible only to Microsoft license-holders running certain versions of Internet Explorer, a design decision that frustrated many, and allegedly contravened the Disability Discrimination Act.

Technologist Matthew Somerville attempted to draw the public's attention to Odeon's dismissal of his concerns, and prove that there were no technical obstacles to providing a more usable alternative design. His 'Accessible Odeon' harvested information from the company's website and redelivered it using established web standards, also making it possible for non-Microsoft browsers to submit online bookings. His site received wide coverage and acclaim in UK newspapers and across the web.

Odeon initially took a public stance which accepted his contribution, and promised not to seek closure of the site. However, in June 2004, Odeon demanded that Somerville remove the facility provided to users of non-Microsoft software to book films online, threatening copyright and trade mark infringement and suggesting that criminal proceedings could be brought under the Data Protection Act. Finally they insisted that unless the site be removed altogether, legal action would be taken. Somerville complied and shut down the site.

Refusals to screen certain films

In 2008, Odeon made a controversial move by refusing to screen Rambo on any of its UK screens, blaming it on "commercial differences".[15] In 2010 Odeon attempted to boycott Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland at its cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Italy, over a plan by Disney to show the film for a shorter period to allow it to release the film on DVD earlier.[16] Following individual negotiations with Disney, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue backed down.[17]

Public customer complaint

On 24 August 2012, a customer named Matt Pledger posted a complaint on Odeon's Facebook wall about his experience with the cinema, citing high ticket prices, high food prices, inattentive staff, sound bleeding through from the cinema next door, and displaying adverts on how piracy was killing film.[18] The complaint eventually went viral, with over 275,000 'Likes' and over 23,000 comments as of 3 September 2012, as well as receiving attention from the national media,[19][20][21] including a programme feature on BBC Radio 4.[22]


  1. ^ "From bargain-bin store to bingo hall, the sad fate of the Odeon popcorn palaces". London: The Daily Mail. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Odeon". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Keith Farley. "The Coming of the 'Talkies' and the 'Super' Cinemas". Wolverhamton History & Heritage Site. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Gorst, Thom (1995). The Buildings Around Us. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-419-19330-8. 
  5. ^ "20th Century to the present". Digital Handsworth. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Cinema History For Sale at First Odeon". Birmingham Evening Mail. 11 August 1998. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Jonathan Glancey (18 May 2002). "The mogul's monuments: How Oscar Deutsch's Odeon cinemas taught Britain to love modern architecture". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "About Us". Odeon Cinemas. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Lynch, Suzanne (1 June 2011). "Butler brothers sell nine Irish cinemas to Odeon ICI". The Irish Times. 
  10. ^ "About Us". Odeon Ireland. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Wendy Mitchell (19 June 2007). "UCI Italia buys 10 cinemas from Cinestar Italia". Screen Daily. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Georg Szalai (15 August 2012). "Odeon UCI Cinemas Second-Quarter Loss Narrows". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Johnston, Chris (25 February 2015). "Odeon cinemas set to go on sale for £1bn". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Next to create 80 jobs at West Bromwich store « Express & Star". 24 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Gibson, Owen (7 March 2008). "Not coming to a screen near you". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Alice in Wonderland will not be shown in Odeon cinemas". BBC News. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Odeon reverses Alice in Wonderland boycott". BBC News. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Dear Odeon, I went...". Facebook. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Alice Jones (31 August 2012). "Alice Jones: Please don't kill the magic of the movies – Commentators – Voices". The Independent. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "Odeon Facebook rant goes viral". The Periscope Post. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  21. ^ Steven Vass (1 September 2012). "The multiplex backlash". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  22. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – You and Yours, How do you rate your cinema? , Is the cinema value for money?". BBC Radio. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 

Further reading

  • Eyles, Allen (2002) Odeon Cinemas; Vol. 1: "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation". London : Cinema Theatre Association ISBN 0-85170-813-7
  • Eyles, Allen (2005) Odeon Cinemas; Vol. 2: From J. Arthur Rank to the Multiplex. London : Cinema Theatre Association ISBN 1-84457-048-7

External links