Liverpool, L3 5NF
Date opened: Monday 15th October 1934.
Date Closed: Tuesday 30th September 2008.
Owners: Paramount Film Company Of America.
Architect: F T Verity & S. Beverley FRIBA.
Building contractors: William Tomkinson and Sons.
First film shown: “Cleopatra” starring Claudette Colbert.
First manager: Tony C Reddin.
Seating Capacity: 2670.
Demolished during November 2010.
Costing £240.000, the Paramount was Liverpool’s largest cinema. Boasting 1972 seats in the stalls with a further 698 in the balcony. Built on a site of 30.000 square feet that had previously been occupied by a boxing stadium by building contractors William Tomkinson and Sons. A series of names were put forward such as Plaza, Stadium and Mayfair. Finally the owners settled on Paramount which was the name of the company that owned it.
The frontage of the building was tall and imposing with carved features, faced in silica stone. Due to an existing store the frontage was restricted to half that of the cinema building behind so extending the frontage round into Pudsey Street was to compensate for any loss of impact to the approach of this fine cinema. With lashing of neon tubing that outlined the structure, and large double sided vertical neon illuminated Paramount signs made a dazzling impression for passersby. A deep and brilliantly lit canopy that was over the main entrance doors curved in harmony with the corner pavement.
The auditorium was 120′ wide and 70′ in height. The proscenium width was 80′, and had full working stage facilities. Subtle colours of cream, terracotta, grey and blue with Japanese style designs featured on the walls in gilt. Coves provided hidden and indirect lighting. A spacious carpeted restaurant was included.
The Paramount’s restaurant
On Monday 15th October 1934 at 8pm, the RH Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor George Alfred Strong, JP, performed the opening ceremony. A Grand Gala cine-variety performance then took place in which Paramount’s British film star Ida Lupino made a personal appearance. The ‘Live on Stage’ concert consisted of the Teddy Joyce band, with BBC radio’s John Kellaway and 24 Dreamgirls dancers. Rex 0’Grady, played the John Compton 4 Manual/12Rank organ during the evening. The first film shown was “Cleopatra” starring Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Henry Wilcoxen.
Ownership was transferred to Odeon Theatres (Rank) and was later renamed several years later to Odeon during 1944.
In 1954 the cinema claimed that it was the first on Merseyside to present a CinemaScope film. The new curved screen frame supported a massive 51′ x 21′ Miracle Mirror screen. Manufactured from a plastic material, it was encrusted with highly reflective lenses that reduced the fall off of light when the picture was viewed from the extreme sidelines. Four-track magnetic sound, with three stage speakers sets and twelve speakers positioned around the theatre further complemented the new CinemaScope experience. “The Robe”, a 20th Century Fox feature opened this new format presentation on 11th January 1954 for a highly successful five week run. Five performances a day were required to cope with the demand for those wanting to see CinemaScope for the first time.
Another format, 70mm Todd AO was installed at the Odeon during 1958 using Phillips DP dual 35/70 mm projectors. For this installation the cinema was closed for two days. The screen size was tweaked to 51.5′ x 24.5′, and the speaker count was increased to 83. The cinema re-opened on 26th December and presented “South Pacific”in 70mm Todd AO, that went on to enjoy a six month run. After this success, many films such as “Can Can”, “The Alamo”, “West Side Story”, “Spartacus”, “Lawrence Of Arabia” achieved extreme extended runs at the Odeon, including the record breaking two year run of “The Sound Of Music”
Despite brisk business, the massive single cinema could not achieve a reasonable amount of profitability and closed in 1968 for alterations that gave the cinema two completely separate auditoriums with an opportunity to generate a larger turnover by giving the customers more choice at the one venue . Unfortunately as the building work progressed most of the original decorative features were either altered or covered over. The Compton organ was removed at this time. Screen one which was formed from the original balcony which had been extended forward to seat 989 customers. The huge stalls area now became screen two with a new projection room built into the rear of the original stalls area, with seating capacity of 595 seats. In 1973 screen two was altered further, adding two small auditoriums-(screens three & four), each seating 167 customers, and positioned on either side of screen two. Opening on 23rd December 1973, screen two showed “The Belstone Fox”, screen three-“A Touch Of Class”, and screen four-“Live and Let Die”. During 1979 a fifth, 148 seat screen was created by altering the bar area which was located off the circle foyer, this opened on 4th November 1979 with “Midnight Express”.
More screens were added in a £2.8 million restructuring of the building in January of 1999 achieved by dividing still further the existing auditoriums and even creating an auditorium on the original stage area. The 10 screen multi-screen venue was opened fully on Friday 16th July 1999.
A new Odeon 14 screen multiplex was built in the Liverpool ONE development. When completed the London Road Odeon closed on 30th September 2008 with the new cinema complex taking over trading the following day.
Two years later demolition began, by March 2011 the site was cleared. During 2017 a block of student accommodation named The Paramount was built on the site.