Home » Weston-super-Mare cinema reopens with new owner

Weston-super-Mare cinema reopens with new owner

by Stewart Cole

The cinema first opened its doors in 1935

A seaside town’s art deco cinema has been bought by an independent company.

Merlin Cinemas has taken over the former Odeon building in Weston-super-Mare, which closed in May.

The new owner has promised to protect the building’s famous Compton organ – one of only two working cinema organs in England.

Mike Bell, leader of North Somerset Council, said he was “really pleased” the cinema “will soon be back doing what it does best”.

Merlin Cinemas was established in 1990 following the purchase of the Savoy Penzance and has since focused on restoring traditional town center cinemas or repurposing heritage buildings into cinemas.

It already has 17 cinemas across the country, most of which are in the South West.

The latest takeover, which first opened in 1935, will now be known as Plaza Weston-super-Mare and Merlin Cinemas said they would focus on opening as soon as possible.

The Compton instrument

The Compton organ has been entertaining audiences since 1935

Mr Bell said: “I spoke to Merlin Cinemas today and assured them of our support in their work to keep the cinema in the building running.

“I am confident that, with the support of the community, we can begin a positive and sustainable future for this landmark site.”

Merlin Cinemas said the Plaza will show mainstream films on their release dates, some alternative films and also special screenings of old favourites.

It will also show opera, ballet and concerts live from theaters including the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, and the company said the organ would be heard again “on special occasions”.

‘Great news’

Geoff Greaves, director of Merlin Cinemas, said reopening the building would “bring back a valuable social amenity and help revitalize the town center as well as providing local employment”.

“We look forward to bringing this cinema back to life and welcoming old and new customers in the very near future,” he said.

Vice-chairman of the tourism and leisure committee for Weston Borough Council, Simon Harrison-Morse, who has worked at the Odeon for 28 years, said: “I think it’s brilliant. The building was designed to be a cinema and it’s great news that it will continue .

“It has such an iconic and dominant presence in our city, which has been a cinema for over 80 years and I am very pleased that Merlin Cinemas will ensure that it continues for a long time to come.”

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