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Odeons under threat Closure plan signals end of 70-year history. Words: Ruth Hedges
‘ I s everybody happy? Yes! Do we ever worry? No! To the Odeon we have
come/Now we're all together/We can have some fun.‘
And so went the little matinee ditty of the 19305 Odeon. The reality. 70 years on is rather less chipper. With an ann0uncement of the imminent cl05ure of the Odeon on Clerk Street. Edinburgh and Reniield Street. Glasgow. the cinema chain's gl0ry days seem well and truly over.
The offiCial line is that these cinemas are merely undergoing an ‘economic Viability assessment'. but that '5 what Thatcher said to the miners. And we all know what happened to them.
In a bizarre process of muSical-premises-chairs. the demolished ABC cinema on Edinburgh's Lothian Road will provide the site for a new Odeon. an art house- concept Cinema in design and content. But wrth the Cameo and Filmhouse just yards away. doubts remain over whether the capital’s already saturated cinema market Will cope wrth another venue.
Even before the opening of the new Warner Brothers multiplex, Edinburgh had more Cinemas per head than in any other city in the UK. and the repercussions of the Warner and UGC on the Odeon have been harsh. Three years ago the Odeon had 20% of the share of Edinburgh's cinema-going market; now it has just 6%. There is a sense among staff at the cinema that the Odeon c0uld have tried harder to compete. but with all its energies going into the new Lothian Road Site. Clerk Street '3 art deco elegance has been allowed to fade. It's a similar story in Glasgow. Before the UGC opened on Renfrew Street in 2001 the Odeon had 1 million passmg through its d00rs annually. Now that number has halved.
Both venues hosted top live music acts in their 70 year hist0ry — Renfield Street scooping the Beatles' only Glasgow performance in 1964. And more recently Edinburgh International Film Festival's glamorous opening and closing galas have been held at the Clerk Street site. There are hopes that the Film Festival might step in to help bail it out. but they are as yet unconfirmed. More likely is that the site will be turned into a Superclub. The venue already has a license and would be relatively easy to extend for clubbing purposes.
The closmes will be a great loss for the communities they serve. and however the new Lothian Road Odeon evolves. one thing's for sure: there won't be Sandra checking yOur tickets with a cheery ‘enjoy the film'.
An artist’s impression of the proposed Odeon on Edinburgh’s Lothian Road
an international festival of live arts
3 February - 15 March 2003
artists include: Bobby Baker
‘A place to try new things - for the audiences as much Anne Bean 05 the Performers ' Bodies in Flight
The Times Cool
Richard DeDomenici Forced Entertainment Forkbeard Fantasy Fortier Danse-Création Goat island
Helen Herbertson 8. Ben Cobham Raimund Hoghe Hotel Modern
Michael Mayhew Lynne Marsh
Graeme Miller 8- John Smith New Media Scotland Michele Noiret AngelikaOei &
Bob Ostertag & Pierre Hebert
Aine Phillips Geraldine Pilgrim Plan B
Hideyuki Sawayanagi Anne Seagrave
Apex tickets available up to Etelax n
isa a 5 seven days in advance of Aaron Williamson events at just £5
‘A Doctor Who Tardis of experimental art’ The Scotsman
‘Smashes all the boundaries between dance, installation, theatre, visual art and new technology.’
information and tickets:
THE ARCHES 0901 022 0300
TRAMWAY 0845 330 3501
online programme & links at www.newterrit0ries.c0.uk
- ‘ Scottish co sh iii—‘3 . m instéouncil - Arts ngu'ﬁﬂ Farm
28 Feb-14 Mar 2002 TH! LIST 7