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The Cinema restoration project is still going strong! 

It might seem that we’ve gone a bit quiet, but rest assured, we’ve been beavering away in the background meeting with banks and potential funders. These things are notoriously slippery so watch this space for updates. We’re hopeful but we mustn’t drop the ball on other forms of funding and support. Following the closure of the building by the fire Service we are working hard to install all necessary requirements so that we can get it open again as soon as possible. Fear not, we are still dedicated to restoring your Odyssey cinema to a working picturehouse!

Ann Marie Whitton’s Odyssey Cinema Watercolour

A while back we were sent an image by Ann Marie Whitton of her glorious depiction of the Odyssey cinema in technicolour! She kindly allowed us to put it up for auction with all the proceeds going to the restoration. We are huge fans of the artwork and despite many kind and generous offers, we don’t believe that it has reached its true value yet, so for now we’re holding onto it until a better offer comes in. Nevertheless, if you like the work, you can purchase limited edition prints of the painting (33cm x 25cm), signed and dated by the artist, at a steal for £60.00 with free postage. To purchase, go to http://www.annmariewhitton.co.uk

Come on the Odeon Journey- share your cinema memories!

Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, St Albans Civic Society will collect, record, re-create and permanently store the magic of cinematic memories from the old Odeon cinema.

Odeon Journey is supported by the Museum of St Albans, St Albans Arts Sport and Health and the Odyssey Cinema. Memories will be collected, filmed, recorded or recreated by anyone who wants to share them; in spring 2012, there will be an exhibition to celebrate the memories at the Museum of St Albans. It will also include two local schools and up to 60 primary school children will dramatise past memories and create their own wishes for the future of the cinema.

Project manager Anna Reynolds says;  ‘This project is open to everybody- if you’d like to volunteer and receive free training in oral history taking, share an old photo or a story from the past glory of the Odeon cinema- maybe you knew it, or your parents or grandparents did, as the Alpha..the Poly..the Regent…or the Capitol? Whatever your stories are, the Odeon Journey team would love to hear them.’

Find out more about future events, including dramatisation and art workshops and a two week long residency at St Albans Central Library from 17-30 October at;www.odeonjourney.org.uk

Email the project at info@odeonjourney.org.uk to tell us your story, or sign up to get involved.


Odeon Journey – launch of a new Heritage Lottery funded project

Do you remember your first cinema kiss? Or the first film your child ever saw on the big screen? As we have mentioned at our Odyssey Open Days, we’re keen to capture your memories of the cinema. So we’re delighted that the St Albans Civic Society and local writer Anna Reynolds have been awarded £32,200 to do just that in a new Heritage Lottery funded project; and we want all of you to contribute!

Recreating our most precious cinematic memories from the Art Deco splendour of the cinema, now named The Odyssey, the project Odeon Journey will begin this September by inviting contributions from across the area. The project will celebrate the building’s history by collecting stories from cinema-goers of all ages, culminating in a multimedia exhibition at St Albans Museum and the Odyssey cinema (building works permitting) in 2012.

“Our partners the St Albans Museum and the Odyssey are brilliant venues for Odeon Journey,” said Project Manager Anna Reynolds. “Thanks to them and to our other partners – St Albans Arts Sports and Health, and the two local primary schools, Camp and Mandeville – we know this project will be able to engage with the whole community.”

There are several ways that you can ensure that your own memories become part of the exhibition.

1) Visit the Odeon Journey stall at St Albans Market on the 10th September. We’ll be there throughout the day, gathering and sharing recollections.

2) Up to 60 schoolchildren will take part in the project by recreating famous film footage in a performance installation during 2012, bringing this cinematic heritage to life.

3) Sign up to get involved at Trinity Church, Beaconsfield Road St Albans, (opposite the Horn), on 17 September from 2- 4pm.

4) Email the project team at info@odeonjourney.org.uk to offer a memory or express an interest

Roy Swanston, Heritage Lottery Fund East of England Committee member, says, “Most people of my generation will remember going to the cinema every Saturday morning for the Children’s Cinema Club; it was wonderful to watch Roy Rogers and Laurel and Hardy on the big screen … So it is great that the Odeon Journey being created in the old Odeon Cinema at St Albans will begin to usher in a new host of memories of the cinema as it was and lead people to see how cinema has developed over the years since then.”

Here are a couple of the fantastic quotes we have received so far:

It was a learning curve, the Odeon.. I learned everything about kissing girls from it.”

“Just after the war it was a haven from cold and unemployment. I’d stay there all day and watch films over and over again- nobody minded- to escape the austerity outside.”

Save the date:

Heritage Open Days on Saturday 10th September will also host something new and different from The Odyssey! Put the date in your diary and watch this space for more details. If you’re a supporter, you won’t want to miss it…

JULY 2011

Odyssey Open Day #3 – Thanks for coming!

On June 12th we opened our doors for the third time. Despite rain, wind, local roads being closed and a marathon nearby, around 800 of you came to say hello and see the progress.

Photo: with thanks to PressTheBigRedButton via Flickr

Those who were observant will have noticed quite a difference from the last visit. To many it may have looked like we had gone backwards, as once again you were surrounded by rubble! This rubble was thanks to the opening up of the entirety of the basement floor. No longer are there three cinemas down there, but now one big open space. We’re getting there, slowly but surely! The best question of the day remains: “When are the builders going to start?”

We were delighted to be able to show off our wonderful new bags and T-shirts, and from these and your donations, we raised another fantastic £3,000 towards the restoration.

We were also lucky enough to have Dan Watt in residence. As part of his Graphics A2 project, Dan built a model of what he envisages The Odyssey facade might look like, which served to whet viewers’ appetites.

As James said in his talk, and in the Rex programme – there is no Plan B. This project is happening – it’s just a matter of when. The team have been busy completing funding proposals, so rest assured that we’re all beavering away in the background until we reach our goal!

We’re taking a break from the market – thanks to our brilliant helpers and all those who have visited us!

We’ve decided to take a break from running our market stall, so this Saturday (30th July) will be our last for a while. Come and say farewell for now as we divert our attentions (and funds) to more pressing tasks (more to come on that later!) Thanks to all those who have visited us – special thanks to the regulars who pop by for a chat and make us feel that we have friends – you know who you are. You’re brilliant.

Visit The Odyssey’s sister cinema, The Rex, to get a taste of what’s to come.

To get a sense of what’s in store at The Odyssey, the best place to turn is James Hannaway’s cinema The Rex in Berkhamsted – cited by the BBC as “Possibly the most beautiful cinema in Britain”. The Odyssey aims to rival The Rex for luxury and comfort – the cinema experience as it should be. The August programme is excellent, with the winner of the Palme D’Or, THE TREE OF LIFE, screening from the  and mischievous comedies BRIDESMAIDS, BAD TEACHER and POTICHE, the latter starring Catherine Deneuve. Plus, parents mustn’t forget the matinee especially for you and your baby every Tuesday. The Rex can be found at: High Street (Three Close Lane), Berkhamsted, HP4 2FG // www.therexberkhamsted.com // To book tickets call 01442 877759.

We will soon be announcing very exciting new events and developments, so please continue to watch this space! We’re working harder than ever to get your cinema back to working order and bring you the latest, greatest filmmaking.

MAY 2011

Odyssey – A New Hope

We are in conversation with a couple of heavy-hitting financial organisations who may be able to stoke the fires of the restoration funding. Not ones for eternal pessimism, we have our fingers crossed that this could bring significant support. Nevertheless, we know from experience not to put all our eggs in these baskets, and the best funding still comes from those passionate supporters out there: you lot. So please keep it up. As ever, our Odyssey team are at the market stall on Saturdays ready to field any questions.

Make your mark – sponsor part of the build.

We are continuing to offer parts of the restoration of The Odyssey as sponsorship items.

If you just have a few quid and want to spend it on something worthwhile, then you can’t do much worse than to sponsor the façade for £20. This will be the first bit restored, starting in the next couple of months before the roof is replaced – so get in there quickly!

Other parts of the building on offer (also viewable on our website: www.odysseypictures.co.uk)

The Centre of Attention – Cinema Screen & Curtains: Total cost to restore: £40,000. Sponsorship just £40 per unit.

The Gorgeous Proscenium Arch: The beautiful surround to the screen, seen in all its glory at The Rex. Total cost of restoration: £30,000. Put your name to it for just £30!

The Heart of the Cinema – the Auditorium. Acoustic Treatment (soft walls and ceiling): Total cost £60,000. Put your name to it for just £60 per unit. 

If you would like any further information, or to request payment details: contactus@odysseypictures.co.uk.

The 64th Cannes Film Festival, 2011

May 11th sees the start of this year’s glistening Cannes film festival. Some believe it’s the most glamorous and exciting festival in the calendar, others consider it to be a soulless, abhorrent circus, but you can’t deny its heritage. Projects at various stages of development will be aiming to bash out a deal including “Cloud Atlas”, based on the bestseller, starring Tom Hanks. Screening highlights will include the opening night film: Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ through to Dreamworks Animation’s ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’. Yes, all of the Hollywood Studios are out in force for this, the glitziest of industry events/tanning opportunities in the small Cote D’Azur hamlet.

Visit The Odyssey’s sister cinema, The Rex, to get a taste of what’s to come.

To get a sense of what’s in store for you all at The Odyssey, the best place to turn is James Hannaway’s cinema The Rex in Berkhamsted – cited by the Daily Telegraph as “Possibly the most beautiful cinema in Britain”. The Odyssey aims to rival The Rex for luxury and comfort – the cinema experience as it should be. This month’s programme features fantastic films such as “Source Code”, the latest action thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rex french favourite “Conversations with my Gardener” and brilliant British melancholy coming-of-age comedy ‘Submarine’, from first-time Director Richard Ayoade (‘The IT Crowd’). The Rex can be found at: High Street (Three Close Lane), Berkhamsted, HP4 2FG // www.therexberkhamsted.com // To book tickets call 01442 877759.

MARCH 2011

One year since we saved the Odeon from demolition!

It’s almost exactly a year since you helped us to raise £1 million in a heart-stopping eight weeks, to take the local Odeon cinema off the market and save it from demolition.

In this time, we have invited over 4000 visitors into the cinema to see for themselves the huge task ahead. With the blessing of the Kubrick family, we have kickstarted a new lease of life for the building, with a renaming from the Odeon to The Odyssey, and embarked upon the huge task of clearing what was a crumbling, dilapidated 4-screen cinema, with a view to restoring it to its former 30’s art deco glory.

What’s been keeping us busy?

We have spent the last couple of months kicking-off a fresh multi-faceted fundraising strategy, with ongoing conversations with investors and venture capitalists, and a big awareness-raising push. At the centre of this is the weekly Saturday market stall in St.Albans. Our helpers from The Rex have been doing a sterling job of chatting to the locals and spreading the word – thanks to everyone who has come to say Hello! Please continue to make your visits – we’re stationed just in front of the town hall – and see the new items popping up on the stall over the next few months.

We have also been spreading the word via presentations and talks. Thanks must go to the interest and enthusiasm of St.Albans U3A, Sandridge W.I. and The Cunningham Residents’ Association who have all provided a warm welcome. Across all three events, over 300 people have been told the fascinating story of the cinema and had a chance to have their questions answered.

If you would like to arrange The Odyssey to come to your workplace or group, please email contactus@odysseypictures.co.uk.

Sponsorships are proving popular

We have had lots of great feedback on the new sponsorship options available. We realised that many people wanted to be able to get involved, but couldn’t afford to sponsor a seat. As a result, we decided to break up the rebuild into smaller bitesize sponsorship chunks to enable people to buy them as gifts, or even sponsor a couple of different areas. All options are available on the website: www.odysseypictures.co.uk.

What’s on the renovation agenda?

There are two big projects on the horizon. One is the repainting of the façade; we’re keen to make the most of the outside of the building as a huge blank canvas to raise further awareness and promote new news. In addition, we want to make it clear that changes are being made and work is being done. And, let’s not forget: it’s Spring! Time for a freshen-up! You can help speed this process up by sponsoring the façade for just £20. In return, you will receive our sponsorship certificate package and get your name on display in the cinema, particularly in our Heroes book – a document of all those who rebuilt the cinema.

The other huge project, that will prove a great turning-point is to replace the roof. This will cost c.£100k and really needs to be carried out this summer.

Spring Open Day

We will soon announce a Spring Open Day date for you all to have a good nosey around – including the new, as yet unseen, Screen 2 downstairs. It’s a glorious space and we’re sure that you’ll be just as excited as we are at seeing the cavernous space emerging.

We’ll report the date here in the Herts Advertiser, on local radio, on our website, on Facebook, and of course on the walls of the building itself (so it’ll be pretty hard to miss!).

If you would like to invest, help out or just say hello and tell us a story about your experience of the cinema, please emailcontactus@odysseypictures.co.uk, or you can find us on Facebook under James Hannaway.

Enjoy the glorious sunshine!


Welcome to February’s update from The Odyssey Cinema, St.Albans!

New sponsorship options announced!

Thanks to the popularity of the seat sponsorship at The Odyssey, we are excited to open up sponsorship to many other parts of the cinema – from the projectors to the screen! We’ve divided each item up into bitesize chunks to make it more affordable to put your or a loved one’s name to the project. Everyone buying into a sponsorship will receive a special gift pack that we’re currently devising, and fear not: if you’ve already bought a sponsorship, you’ll receive your gift pack in the post as soon as it’s ready.

Become immortal at The Odyssey & put your name to the restoration.

Here are some options on offer. You can buy just one unit of any sponsorship that catches your eye, or if you’d like something a bit more substantial, or perhaps you’re a group or organisation, you can request multiple units, or have a whole screen or projector to yourselves!

The Centre of Attention – Cinema Screen & Curtains: Total cost to restore: £40,000. Sponsorship just £40 per unit.

The All-Important Projectors: You can sponsor either the classic 35mm projector, or the all-singing all-dancing Digital projector. Total cost for both: £160,000. Sponsorship for only £80 per unit!

The Glistening Sound System: Including the surround speakers.  Total cost: £70,000. Sponsor the whole system for just £70 per unit!

The Gorgeous Proscenium Arch: The beautiful surround to the screen, seen in all its glory at The Rex. Total cost of restoration: £30,000. Put your name to it for just £30!

The front facade of The Odyssey: (front wall) including the motifs and signage. Total cost of restoration: £20,000. Be one of those bringing it back to life for just £20!

The Path to Glory – the specially-designed Odyssey-motif carpeting. Total cost throughout: £70,000. Sponsor it for just £70 per unit!

Steps and Under-foot Lighting: Light the walk to your seat. Total cost: £40,000. Sponsor the steps throughout the cinema for £40 per unit.

The Heart of the Cinema – the Auditorium. Acoustic Treatment (soft walls and ceiling): Total cost £60,000. Put your name to it for just £60 per unit. 

If you would like any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at contactus@odysseypictures.co.uk.

Odyssey Market Stall gaining popularity in St. Albans, every Saturday.

Come and visit us on the market stall, see newest photos from the restoration and have a chat with the team. Every week will see new things appearing on the stall. For brand new merchandise, watch this space!

Thanks and a correction for Sandridge W.I., St.Albans

Apologies to the Sandridge W.I., St.Albans who were incorrectly named last month. They provided such delicious biscuits that we couldn’t let it go without ensuring it was corrected!

The Odyssey now available as a film location!

As one of the few dilapidated cinemas remaining, The Odyssey has proven incredibly popular with the film world as a unique location. If you are interested in using any of the spaces at The Odyssey for filming, please get in touch.


Happy New Year from all at The Odyssey Cinema!

New year brings new opportunities

Up at Odyssey towers, we have all sorts of fun and frolics, not to mention a healthy does of hard work planned for 2011. There’s lots to do on the building this year, not least a new floor, and new roof – so quite fundamental stuff really. New photos of the space will be going onto Facebook very soon.

Odyssey Market Stall arrives in St. Albans every week from Saturday 29th January!!

Come make our volunteers feel warm and cosy as they shiver in the cold from 8am every Saturday. James will be making a guest appearance now and then, as will Denise Hicks and other team members, so feel free to bombard them with questions galore! The market stall will provide an opportunity to find out what’s going on at the site, see how the fundraising is going, find out more how to get involved, perhaps buy some merchandise, and see some recent photos.

The Sandridge W.I. lend an ear

Huge thanks to the Sandridge W.I. who invited Denise to tell them the story of the Odyssey. It was great to talk through the story from start to finish and the audience were attentive, interested and were kind enough to supply tea and fancy French biscuits (the W.I. has gone up in the world!), not to mention a very kind donation to the cinema! Thanks to all the ladies (and the three men that snuck in!)

A great night was had in the company of film comedy legends, as The Rex sponsored the 30th anniversary screening of Airplane! – also a chance to celebrate the genius of Leslie Nielsen. Presented by LoCo, The London Comedy Film Festival

Denise Hicks has launched her very own film festival in the heart of London! The 30th Anniversary of the iconic comedy film Airplane! was sponsored by The Rex and kick-started a series of special quarterly screening events leading up to the official launch of the LoCo Film Festival in Feb 2012.

LoCo – The London Comedy Film Festival – has been established to brings fans and filmmakers together to discover and inspire the world’s best comedy films; a hugely under-appreciated and critically overlooked genre.

The screening was a fantastic night at The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square. Despite the student riots, people came in droves to share in the rapturous applause at iconic lines such as “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”. The audience was treated to a rare Q&A from the Airplane! writers & directors, David and Jerry Zucker. Also in attendance as a special surprise guest was the delightful Robert Hays, aka lead, Ted Striker.

For more information and to sign up to hear about future events, please go to www.locofilmfestival.com, or contact Denise directly at Denise@locofilmfestival.com.

The Odyssey stars in new UK feature film!

The Odyssey cinema, in its relatively dilapidated state, is starring in new movie ‘Their Law’ – a film about the deception and corruption within the underworld and the government, by Sean J Vincent and Andre Renner. Find out more about the experience of filming in The Odyssey by reading the ‘Their Law’ production blog!



Odyssey Market Stall coming soon to St. Albans Saturday market!

The lovely members of St.Albans council have very kindly agreed to rent us a market stall in the Saturday market. This proved a great idea in the development of The Rex in Berkhamsted, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to replicate the success with The Odyssey. It will provide a weekly point of contact for you all to find out more about the progress with the cinema, how the money is being spent, and how you can get involved. The stall will pop up this side of Christmas, and we will have our friendly representatives there in their woolies on a weekly basis, so please feel free to pop down and say Hello!

‘Wall Street’ Fundraising event at The Rex CANCELLED

Unfortunately we’ve had to cancel this fundraising event due to a low number of tickets sold. Many apologies to anyone who bought tickets, they are still valid for a regular screening of the film Wall Street II: Money Never Sleeps. Anyone else who would like tickets for the movie, please book through the Rex Box Office: 01442 877999. Visiting us at The Rex in Berkhamsted is the perfect way to get a sense of the ethos and values behind the St.Albans Odyssey, not to mention being a great night out. For the full programme of movies coming up, go to http://www.therexberkhamsted.co.uk

There will be other fundraising events in the near future, so thanks to all those supporting us, and continue to watch this space. With huge building works going on, including a brand new roof next year, we need your involvement more than ever to get the cinema open for your viewing pleasure!

Get involved and leave a legacy by stamping your name on a piece of the cinema

Seat sponsorship (or Throne Sponsorship, as we like to think of it) is a really popular way of helping to rebuild the cinema, and have a little piece for yourself and the future. If you would like to sponsor a seat for yourself, a family or friend, or as a group, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Sponsorship of your lovely, comfy, cosy seat currently costs £1000. For those that would like something different, we will also shortly be releasing a whole host of other sponsorship options for all budgets, so even your children and grandchildren will each be able to have their own little piece of this very special building. We’ll be discussing this at our market stall, on these pages and on our website in the next few weeks.

The Rex sponsors a 30th anniversary screening of Airplane! presented by LoCo – The London Comedy Film Festival

Denise Hicks, the blonde one working with James on The Odyssey, is launching her very own film festival in the heart of London! The 30th Anniversary of the iconic comedy film Airplane! is sponsored by The Rex and heads up a series of special quarterly screening events leading up to the official launch of the LoCo Film Festival in Feb 2012. The screening will be a fun night with theatrics and extra goodies, and will take place in Leicester Square, London, on Thursday December 9th, 8pm. Flying all the way from LA for a Q+A are the writers/directors/producers and Kings of Parody, David and Jerry Zucker. It’ll be an event not to be missed!

For more information and tickets, please go to www.locofilmfestival.com


Massive clearance task is underway

Since our opening in September, attended by what felt like thousands, clearing the tonnage from the building has been full-on. Emerging from the dust, the space is getting larger and more cavernous, revealing new staircases and spaces, and willing us to fill it with all sorts of cinema greatness. The most exciting of these is the enigmatic Screen 2, directly beneath the main auditorium. This has been seen by very few eyes, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to add it to the tour at the next open day for our ever-enthusiastic and energetic advocates to explore.

During the process of clearing, we have been preserving as many of the details and souvenirs as possible and hope to be able to offer some of them to our supporters, in a bid to raise further funds. These will hopefully be on offer at a space at the infamous Saturday and Wednesday St.Albans markets, applied via the supportive local council.

Form follows function

Many are curious as to the form that the cinema will take. While we have jotted down some first thoughts on design and layout, we are still getting to know the building and are eager to let it take shape a little before we dictate the look and feel. Having said this, if you have experience in interior design or architecture, and would like to be involved in the future, feel free to drop us an email for an informal chat. To all others who volunteered for hard (and soft) labour, please keep an eye on the Odyssey website. We will contact you directly when the time and the work is right.

We will very soon be launching a new fundraising push to help us find the next £1.7million for the restoration work. A sign will eventually appear in this column and on the cinema walls themselves, marking the rise in funds as they come in.

As ever, there will also be opportunities for the community to be involved in the fundraising, which will be revealed in future columns.

‘Wall Street’ Fundraising event at The Rex, November 2010!

November 27th will mark a year since that wet Sunday afternoon when we opened The Rex to declare the Odeon St.Albans was ours, and all we needed was £1 million by February…! With standing room only, over 600 filled the 300-seater auditorium, with a relay into the foyer. The atmosphere was electric and the joy palpable. In the end it took to the end of March to raise the million.

To celebrate that extraordinary day, we’re inviting you back to The Rex, where it all began. This time you are invited to spend a ridiculous amount on tickets for ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’, as a blatant fundraising event on Saturday 27th at 7pm. Details are available from the Rex Box Office and the Odyssey website.

If you would simply like to see the film without the bells and whistles, come on Friday or Sunday when it’ll be cheaper.