Odeon legacy lives on in £20m project
WHEN a historic art deco cinema closed its doors, Scottish movie legends such as Sean Connery, Dougray Scott, James Cosmo and Brian Cox battled unsuccessfully to save it.
However, as radical plans unveiled last night revealed, films will continue to be screened at Edinburgh's former Odeon cinema when the building is revamped as a hotel complex.
The main auditorium at the movie theatre, in the city's southside, will be demolished under the plans drawn up by developer Duddingston House Properties.
But the 20 million construction will feature an 80-capacity lecture theatre equipped with projection equipment and an outdoor courtyard where films will be shown on a giant glass screen.
The firm had come under fire for failing to press ahead with a redevelopment of the site after buying it up from the cinema chain more than four years ago.
Campaigners have long argued for the building to be brought back to life, particularly as Edinburgh no longer has a cinema suitable for gala film premieres.
But a previous proposal to create student flats, cafes and restaurants on the site was withdrawn by the developer after hostile opposition.
The bulk of the development will be given over to a 230-room boutique "arts" hotel, which will be built on the site of the former cinema screens.
The old cinema foyer will be retained and the art deco frontage of the B-listed building is to be brought back to its former glory, while the first-floor cafe-bar will be retained.
Duddingston revealed last night it is in talks with Edinburgh College of Art to allow students to help with the design.
Director Charles Martin said: "While there will always be a view that a listed building with the historic significance of the Odeon should have remained a cinema, we have fully tested this possibility.
"Other than as a night club or super pub we have had no offers that make commercial sense."
SOUTH SIDE LANDMARK WITH A LONG HISTORY
THE New Victoria cinema, designed by the acclaimed architect WE Trent, was unveiled by the Gaumont Company on August 25, 1930, coincidentally the day Sir Sean was born in Edinburgh.
It was renamed the Odeon in 1964 and survived until August 2003 when it was closed, with Odeon blaming dwindling ticket sales. It had already been planning to open a new venture in Lothian Road.
Community leaders, councillors, cinema historians and the city's film festival were all opposed to the loss of the South Clerk Street cinema, which regularly played host to VIP galas and premieres. Sir Sean Connery was among those to back the campaign.
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