Edinburgh Today


Cinemas and Theatres

Edinburgh's Cinemas

Edinburgh's first cinema, The Empire, was built in 1896.

By 1929, Edinburgh had 33 cinemas.  Most of these have now vanished, many due to falling attendances as audiences in the 1960s turned to television.  Others have been replaced by larger multi-screen cinemas in recent years.

Edinburgh Evening News:  November 19, 2005,   p.13



Cameo Cinema

November 2005

Cinema For Sale

One of Edinburgh's few remaining old cinemas, Cameo Cinema, built in 1914.  However, in November 2005, the owners, City Screen:

-  put the cinema up for sale.

- applied for part of the main auditorium to be converted to a bar.

Herald & Post:  November 17, 2005,  p.9
Edinburgh Evening News:  November19,  2005,   p.13


Further details of the proposals for the Cameo were reported in the Edinburgh Evening News on  November 22. 

It is proposed to:

-  replace the cinema seats in front of the main 'Screen 1' by tables and chairs on a flat floor, with a bar at the back.

-   replace the existing bar by a new 55-seat cinema.

The Evening News also reported that an online campaign to save the cinema had received 82,000 hits by November  22, 2005

Edinburgh Evening News  November 22,  2005,   p.23


The proposals above have resulted in widespread opposition from people who fear they would result in the cinema being turned into a 'super pub'.

It was reported on November 24 that proposals are being considered to rescue the Cameo and continue to run it a a cinema.

- Edinburgh Council would buy the Cameo cinema and provide subsidy as it already does for the Filmhouse cinema in Lothian Road.

- The Cameo would be run by the company that already runs the  Filmhouse cinema and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Edinburgh Evening News  24 November 2005,   p.25

Planning Application Withdrawn

What next?

City Screen, the owners of the Cameo cinema announced on  November 30, 2005 to an audience of 250 protestors in the Methodist Hall at Tollcross, that in the face of growing opposition to their plans, they had decided to withdraw their planning application to convert their main auditorium into a bar.

The head of the Film Festival and Filmhouse confirmed that they would be willing to run the Cameo if a buyer could be found.  However, Councillor Henderson said that  Edinburgh City Council had no cash available to save the Cameo

Edinburgh Evening News:  November 30, 2005,   p.20

August 2006

Cinema taken off the Market

City Screen, the owners of Cameo cinema have now abandoned plans to sell the cinema, and have taken it off the market. 

Plans to refurbish its main auditorium have also been shelved, following a protest campaign led by Genni Poole, daughter of Jim Poole, a former owner of the cinema who turned it into Scotland's first art-house cinema in 1949.

Edinburgh International Film Festival, one of the users of the Cameo, has welcomed this news that it is to remain as a cinema.

However, the owners are now planning a fundraising campaign to raise 250,000 to refurbish the second screen, toilets and foyer.

Edinburgh Evening News:  August 16, 2006,   p.7

Historic Scotland grant 'B Listing'

Following a campaign by the Cinema Theatre Association, Historic Scotland has granted a 'B Listing' status to the Cameo cinema, so giving protection, for the first time, to the cinema's interior.

Edinburgh Evening News:  August 16, 2006,   p.7


Playhouse Theatre

Update:  November 2005


The Playhouse Theatre, Greenside Place, close to the top of Leith Walk

About 100,000 is to be spent to restore the facade of the Playhouse Theatre in Greenside Place to the art deco appearance that it had when it first opened in 1929.

The theatre was designed as a cinema by John Fairweather and modelled on the Roxy in New York.  It remained as a cinema until the early 1970s when it closed and was threatened with closure.  It re-opened as a theatre in 1980.

The work is still subject to planning permission, but it is hoped that it will be completed by the end of 2005.

Herald & Post:  November 24, 2005,  p.17

Update:  June 2009

For Sale

The Edinburgh Evening News has reported that the 3,000-seat Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh has been put up for sale by its US owners, Live Nation, and that 20 theatre operators have expressed an interest.

In recent years, the Playhouse has attracted:

-   a string of owners since it opened as a theatre in 1980.  It has attracted a string of West End shows, including Les Miserables and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,

-   pop stars including Bob Dylan and Neil Young

Evening News  June 25, 2009:  p.7

Update:  October 2009

Ambassador Theatre Group

The Edinburgh Evening News has reported that the Playhouse was due to be sold to  Ambassador Theatre Group, the UK's second largest  theatre group and the largest theatre group in London's West End.

Ambassador Theatre Group also runs Glasgow's Kings Theatre and Theatre Royal.  It hopes to acquire 17 new venues.  This would make it the UK's largest theatre operator.

Ambassador Theatre Group is also understood to be expanding its live music operation.

Evening News  Oct 12, 2009, p.4


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