Odeon’s giant Broadway Plaza site is being converted into Britain’s biggest luxury cinema - in the city where the company was founded in 1930.
Each screen has a sense of intimacy, but on a vast scale unprecedented in Birmingham.
Set to be renamed as Odeon Luxe Birmingham, work is almost finished on the company's ambitious plan to turn all 12 screens into bespoke theatres.
Every customer will have the chance to sit in an electrically-powered reclining chair with individual retractable tables.
All eight screens upstairs were converted during the early spring before work began in April to transform the four ground floor screens.
Odeon Luxe Birmingham general manager Susan Harrison said: “We’re extremely proud that Birmingham will be home to the Midlands’ first Odeon Luxe cinema.
“With Odeon having such a strong connection to the city – including its first cinema being built here in 1930 – it really has been fantastic to see the journey the cinema has undertaken over the past months.
“It has been transforming into the ultimate luxury venue for film fans to enjoy for many more years to come.”
Seating in the iSense screen has also been converted, even though it was only created from Screen 1 in October 2012 in time for the release of James Bond thriller Skyfall, Odeon’s alternative screen to IMAX will still have 4K projection and Dolby ATMOS sound.
The other 11 standard screens will have improved picture quality with Dolby 7.1 surround sound delivered through 190 brand new speakers.
The cinema has stayed open throughout the transformation process, albeit with a reduced number of screens operating.
When US company AMC first opened the site it had 2,909 seats in 12 screens.
Odeon took it over in the summer of 2012, but although the number of screens will stay the same when it is fully open again on June 11, the number of seats will have gone down to 1,264 making booking near essential at peak times.
The upside is that every seat will offer films fans triple the legroom and increased personal space.
Anyone hard of hearing will be able to use a new Dolby Fidelio Audio Description system and an upgraded hearing-impaired system across all screens.
Current prices are £12 for adults, £9.50 for teens (13-17) and £10 for seniors.
The Odeon chairs have to be reset at the push of a button.
The three Gold Class screens at Vue are still ‘closed for maintenance’, reducing the capacity of the cinema to 22 screens.
When George Clooney and Mark Walhberg opened the then Warner Village site in July 2000 it had 30 screens but five had long been mothballed.
New food options
The Odeon Luxe cinema will now offer more than just the traditional cinema food like ice cream and popcorn.
Its menu will include lattice fries, chunky chips, chicken strips, sweet and salted popcorn, hot dogs and nachos, Tango Ice Blast and a Coca Cola Freestyle machine with more than100 different flavours to enjoy.
An all-new Oscar’s Bar will serve a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to complement the newly renovated on-site Costa Coffee.
The cinema’s future attractions will include Ocean’s 8 (18 June), true story survival epic Adrift (29 June) and dinosaur adventure Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (6 June).
What else is on offer?
As well as discounted screenings and promotions including Odeon Kids, Odeon Newbies & Odeon Screen Unseen, Odeon also runs its own subscription card called Limitless which enables customers to see as many films as they want for £17.99 per month (conditions apply).
There is also an ODEON Première Club loyalty scheme.
For more information visit the website here
How does Odeon Luxe Birmingham compare with other central cinemas?
Cineworld Broad Street
This 12-screen cinema completed its own £1 million makeover last year and now includes a Starbucks bar as well as a licensed bar upstairs.
Seats are more traditional and don’t recline, but they are spacious and comfy.
Screen 12 has extra legroom while the old Screen 6 was converted into IMAX in time for the release of Skyfall in 2012.
A 4DX screen opened with Doctor Strange in October 2016, introducing effects including smells, water, whistling bullet puffs of air and shaking seats.
Standard adult tickets are £11.30 (£10.24 for My Cineworld Plus members, annual fee £4.95), child / student £7.80, senior £8.30, family (2+2 or 1+3), £31.20. IMAX tickets are £17.30 for adults and £13.80 for children or £55.20 for families (2+2 or 1+3). 4DX tickets are £17.50 for adults, £14 for children or £56 for a family of four (2+2 or 1+3).
Unlimited cards, which predate Odeon’s move to Limitless, are currently £17.90 per month and include money off concessions as well as lots of restaurant discounts, too. You can earn free months in future by recommending a friend to take one up and discounts increase in the second year.
Birmingham’s first luxury three-screen cinema opened in 2015.
It has with bespoke sofa seats and tables as well as a licensed bar and restaurant.
The concept is the closest to Odeon Luxe - which will now have four times the number of luxury screens.
Standard prices are £13.90 for adults and £10.50 for children.
The Electric Cinema, Station Street
The UK’s oldest working cinema (est 1909) has been modernised this century by owner Tom Lawes.
There are some sofa seats named after film legends in both screens and some blockbusters are screens as well as more alternative films, but it still feels lovably independent with plenty of period features. Standard admission is £10.50 per seat, while sofa seats are £14.80 (back) or £12 (front).
Odeon New Street
This former concert hall and cinema was converted into a multiplex in 1988, with the number of screens of different shapes and sizes eventually reaching eight.
The seats are the most rigid in town, but there is a Costa Coffee bar now in the foyer.
Standard adult prices £10.50, teens and children £8, students £8.25 and seniors £8.50. Family deals (1+3 or 2+2) tickets are £8 per person.
Born in Birmingham to immigrant parents who had left behind growing anti-Semitism in Hungary, Oscar Deutsch opened his first Odeon cinema in Perry Barr, Birmingham in 1930, having previously launched the Brierley Hill Picture House two years earlier.
Despite battling the 1930s’ Depression, when Oscar died from terminal cancer in 1941 he left behind an extraordinary empire of some 320 cinemas.
Many of them are now listed Art Deco landmarks including the flagship Odeon Leicester Square in London which is often used for world and Royal premieres.
Today, the company has more than 120 cinemas and 950 screens across the UK and Ireland.
It has more than 5,700 employees and made the top 25 of the Sunday Times Best Big Companies to Work For 2018 list.
In 2012, Oscar’s then 92-year-old son Ronnie Deutsch told me he could remember being a ten-year-old boy holding his father’s hand at the opening of the first Odeon.
“Sometimes my dad would be opening two cinemas on the same day and there would be a big party on the stage,” he recalled.
“By then I’d been to a number openings that I can remember, but that first Odeon is always in my mind.
“He lived at London’s Dorchester Hotel from Monday to Friday. His office was 20 yards away at No 49, Park Lane.”
Odeon bought the Broadway Plaza site from AMC in 2012.
AMC Theatres – owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda – then bought the entire Odeon group four years later.
The 2016 deal was worth £921 million.
Today, Odeon is Europe’s largest cinema operator, welcoming 115 million guests at more than 360 cinemas across 14 European countries.
And AMC Theatres is now the largest movie exhibition company in the world with more than 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens.
Designed in ‘Moorish’ style before the Art Deco era, the Odeon Perry Barr at 271 Birchfield Road was originally opened by Oscar Deutsch on August 4, 1930.
It was remodelled at the front after suffering war damage and is now the Royal Suite Banqueting Palace.
A Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque dated 1993 says: ‘Oscar Deutsch 1893-1941 Opened the first of the chain of the Odeon Cinemas here’.
+ The origin of celluloid was created by Birmingham metallurgist Alexander Parkes, who has a blue plaque in his honour on Newhall Street close to where Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg shot Ready Player One in the summer of 2016.