Brighton cinemas

Directory of cinemas in Brighton & Hove

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Academy in 1939 before re-modelling

Academy dressed up in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of King George V

The 1939 art deco styling was still evident in 1972, a year before the Academy closed. The film showing is George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh.

59 West Street, Brighton Operated 1911-1973

Academy Picture Palace/Cinema (1911-1931)
Tatler (1931-1932)
Academy Theatre (1932-1973)

• The building previously housed the Brighton Hammam Turkish baths (opened 1868 by the Brighton Turkish Bath Company), designed by H N Goulty of Goulty and Gibbins, and the Victoria Billiard Hall.
1911 June 6 Opened by Alderman Edward Geere, deputy mayor of Brighton, and owned by E E Lyons. Chairman of the operating company is J Henson Infield, proprietor of the Sussex Daily News. The 'largest, loftiest, best-ventilated and most luxurious' Brighton cinema. Proscenium 30ft. Prices 3d, 6d and 1s, children 2d, 3d and 6d. Free afternoon tea and evening coffee in the grand circle; full orchestra. At the opening G A Smith talks about and shows Kinemacolor films, including Birth of Flowers, for screening of which the cinema is fully equipped.
1912 February Starts showing Pathé's Animated Gazette newsreel.
1913 September 29 Re-opened by Sir Joseph Lyons after revamping; 1,012 seats; two projectors are installed to allow for changeovers between reels. Per formances regularly include Kinemacolor productions. Part of the Biocolor Picture Theatres, the circuit formed by Lyons (joint managing director with Capt B J Friend as chairman).
1914 early Edison Kinetophone film sound system installed, the sound coming from wax cylinders that are mechanically linked to the projector. The system is unsuccessful and does not last long in use.
1917 Now called Academy Picture Palace. The manager is Mrs R H Buckley.
1920 Short season of Kine-Opera, a technique invented by a Mr de Caro in London in 1913 involving a live orchestra and singers matching their performance to silent films, is conducted but is unimpressive.
1923 Owned by Academy Picture Palace Co and booked by Lyons. The manager is Bert Millar.
1926 November 18 The Academy is one of the 15 properties in the Biocolor circuit sold by E E Lyons and Thomas Underwood to the Gaumont Company. Price for the Academy: £45,210 1s 5d. This was the fourth highest price after cinemas in North London, Glasgow and Bristol.
1927 March Part of the circuit of the newly formed Gaumont-British Picture Corporation.
1927 May 1 Fritz Lang's Metropolis opens for a two-week run, with an augmented orchestra; 13 special trains a day bring audiences from around Sussex, where the screening is promoted.
1929 October 14 Installation of British Acoustic Films (BA) sound equipment completed. Proscenium 30ft.
1931 Briefly re-named the Tatler before reverting to its original name on 18 January 1932.
1936 Under competition, prices are reduced to 6d-1s 6d.
1937 January Manager Mr Carpenter swaps jobs with Mr Archibald Lionel Pareezer, manager of the Gaumont Palace Cinema, Barnstaple.
1938 May-1939 March Remodelled throughout in Art Deco style to designs by W E Trent, the Gaumont British architect, and carried out by the Brighton firm of A E Potter. The cinema does not close while the work is carried out late at night and in the mornings.
1940 July 15 Opening hours are affected by the curfew imposed in the area south of Western Road and North Street one hour after sunset.
1941 Gaumont-British Picture Corporation cinema chain is absorbed into the Rank Organisation. Prices 9d-1s 6d, 1,012 seats, continuous performances.
1948 976 seats, prices 1s-2s 9d, continuous performances.
1948 932 seats.
1953 Prices 1s 6d-3s 1d.
1954 January The screen curtains are brought here when the Odeon West Street converts to Cinemascope.
1957 Prices 1s 10d-3s 6d.
1958 August 3 The Ten Commandments starts a run that lasts until 13 September.
1961 Prices 2s 3d-4s.
1966 May 28 The Sound of Music transfers from the Regent and runs until 15 October.
1971 Now programming more 'adult' (ie, sex) films.
1973 January 24 Closed prior to opening of Odeon Kingswest and demolished the following year. The last picture shown is Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show.

• Academy House office block now occupies the site on the east side of the street, below Duke Street

Programmes for screenings at the Academy of Hamlet (week commencing 17 November 1913), Anthony and Cleopatra (week of 26 January 1914) and Brigadier Gerard ('three days only', 7-9 February 1916) may be seen online in the Bill Douglas Collection.

Brighton cinema directory
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Page updated 3 March 2018
© David Fisher