Wednesday, 22 September 2010

R.I.P Odeon Cinema!

Everyone always has a place from their childhood that they remember being above all, the coolest place in the world. Mine was the Odeon cinema in Cheltenham.

What's happened to cinemas now? They're full of escalators and 'director screens' and nachos. Cinema's are so worried about losing money and customers they're forcing a million things down your throat at once. Gone are the days when the biggest choice you had to make was whether to have salted or sweet popcorn, now you have to wait an hour whilst some dickhead's three course meal is heated in the microwave. Instead of being a place to relax, you're bombarded before the film with warnings of piracy and mobile phones, which are not only unheeded but also incredibly patronising.

My old cinema was the best. It had the best "cinema smell" of any cinema I've been in. When you walked in you were greeted with rich dark blue carpets that held the smell of the popcorn, it's like stepping into another world. There's so much going on in cinemas today they don't even have a smell. It's one of the things I think everyone remembers as a child, that cinema smell.

The Odeon has gone in Cheltenham now, it couldn't compete with the new Cineworld round the corner that has a bar and an arcade in it. But the Odeon will always have the heart of people in Cheltenham. The first film I ever saw at the pictures was Beauty and the Beast and I saw it there. Granted, I slept most of the way through but I never forgot how much I wanted Belle's yellow dress. I watched Space Jam in a packed out screen with a hundred other kids and I snuck into my first 15 there to watch Billy Elliot.

My brother used to work at the Odeon, and I remember when he got tickets for us to go see the remastered Star Wars: A New Hope. The queue was around the block and down the road but we walked past all of them and straight in. I felt so important. It was in the special 'screen one', which felt like the biggest room I'd ever been in at the time and it's one of those memories that you cherish, even though I don't remember any of the film. I always associate the cinema with my mum falling asleep 30 seconds into the adverts, and the place my Dad would take me during the weekends.

I love trailers, but these days you get more adverts instead of trailers. Without trailers I wouldn't have been excited for Up for six months, they're such a good advertising device. Three trailers per viewing are just not enough, especially when you have to endure 30 car adverts. One of my pet peeves is people who purposely miss trailers before the film. They're something to get excited about and quickly whisper your opinion to your friend and to talk about afterwards and plan your next visits. Trailers can make you cry (I'm looking at you, Where the Wild Things Are) and get people talking (Paranormal Activity).

When the Odeon closed, they found a homeless man living behind scree one. He said he lived off of strawberries and yoghurt. It was a truly amazing cinema, and it might have been tiny and needed a lick of paint, but I think a lot of childhoods were crushed when it was announced it was to be turned into a superclub. As if Cheltenham needs another club to add to the Saturday night violence.

A couple of days ago I found myself needing to go into a building next to the old Odeon, it was probably one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. The building is covered in graffiti, the doors that I used to go through are now boarded up, the windows are smashed, the tiles outside are dirty and there's empty spaces where the newest releases used to be advertised. But that's the price we pay for being a culture that has a need to update and modernise everything, I guess.

this is an old post from a past blog of mine, with an update. Is that lazy?


  1. When I lived in Cheltenham I was just down the road from this cinema, so I walked past it whenever I went into town.

    I love it and I want to buy it and rebuild it. I don't even know why I was just really attracted to it. From the minute I saw it I decided it was mine, so if anyone tares it down before my dream comes true there'll be trouble



  2. Anonymous3/4/11 19:53

    I love this building! And wish someone would put it to good use and preserve our history! We should be protecting and restoring beautiful budding like this! I wish I had the money to buy it too.


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