Ipswich: Cinema uncertainty – could Odeon rebirth scupper Vue plans?

Ipswich Odeon Ipswich Odeon

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
5:35 PM

Speculation is mounting that another cinema group has bought the former Odeon building at Major’s Corner in Ipswich.

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And that could raise a huge question mark over the plans to create a new nine-screen Vue cinema in the town’s Buttermarket shopping centre. The Odeon building was sold at auction in early February for £530,000 – but the identity of the new owner has remained a mystery and the ownership of the building has still not been recorded by the Land Registry.

However property experts in the town understand that its new owner is connected to a growing cinema chain in the country.

And now there are fears that the purchase could lead to Vue pulling out of the deal which would have seen the Buttermarket Centre converted into a major leisure venue.

It was revealed in 2012 that Vue is hoping to move into the top three floors of the former department store in the Buttermarket Centre.

Planning permission was granted for a major change to the shopping centre which would see TK Maxx move to the ground floor of the department store, their store removed completely, and the upper floor converted into a number of restaurants linked to the cinema.

A start date of July last year was announced for the start of work – but nothing happened. Later last year a start date of February this year was given.

No one from the managers of the Buttermarket Centre, Cornerstone, could be contacted to discuss the proposal – but a spokeswoman for Vue said: “Vue Entertainment has been in discussion with developers in Ipswich regarding the possibility of a new cinema in the area, but as of yet no final decisions have yet been made. We remain hopeful of a positive outcome from these discussions.”

It is believed that the uncertainty over the future of the Odeon has not helped Vue and Cornerstone to reach a deal to start work.

To create a nine-screen cinema inside a shopping centre would be a major undertaking, especially as the shop units in the centre would need to continue trading.

Although the Odeon closed in 2005 it is understood that the building is basically sound and refitting it to re-open as a five-screen cinema again would not be a major engineering task.

Ipswich already has 13 cinema screens – 11 at Cineworld on Cardinal Park and two at the Film Theatre in the Corn Exchange.

Since the Odeon closed in 2005, national cinema audiences have increased significantly – but while the town could absorb another nine screens, increasing the town’s screen number from 13 to 27 might be too much of an increase.

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said: “I do not know who has bought the (Odeon) building. The roof does leak, but I don’t know how serious that is.

“I would be concerned if the sale of this did put the Buttermarket conversion in jeopardy – that is a very important development for the future of the town centre and I really hope Vue goes ahead with its proposals.

16 comments

  • "Vue is hoping to move into the top three floors of the former department store in the Buttermarket Centre" That's pretty impressive seeing as the Buttermarket only has 2 floors. Unless they're including the parking.

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    Pepperpotty

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Is speculation mounting? Does the journalist have a solid basis for saying so? Or is this simply guesswork by someone wanting to make a story?

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • We'll put Citizen. We come back to the old arguement of why build a new cinema in valuable retail space when someone could patch up the Odeon, install an IMAX screen to give competition to Cineworld, and encourage someone like House of Frazer to the Buttermarket. But that probably means hard work and a lot of effort by you know who. Anyone for coffee?

    Report this comment

    how'd the town do

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Close a perfectly good cinema, instead of updating, let one have the monopoly, then take over aretail, shopping unit, instead of drawing new outlets to bring life back to a town that seems to want to focus investment on the waterfront and concentrate on students. The Buttermarket was always wrong, it should have been under an arcade with buildings, shops with character, to tie in with Ancient house, less but quality, individual not soul less.

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    waspie

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

  • "but while the town could absorb another nine screens" ... Based on what evidence? I am not so sure; the films are generally the same so if I was watching say "Captain America" then I will only see it at one venue! The only benefit of extra cinema(s) is that it will introduce competition and perhaps reduce prices at Cineworld. As we all know, to have a monopoly in a town (be it for cinemas, newspapers, etc) is NOT a good thing.

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    Johnthebap

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Interesting comments. Peppepotty, when Owen Owen and Allders occupied department store they had all four floors. Proposal is for TK Maxx to go in bottom floor and Vue above them. Cinema audiences nationally have increased significantly since 2005, encouraging operators to look again at Ipswich. Problem for Buttermarket is that no dept store wants to move into their unit - and you can't force House of Fraser or John Lewis to come to the town centre!

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    Paul Geater

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

  • I would be concerned if the sale of this did put the Buttermarket conversion in jeopardy – that is a very important development for the future of the town centre.... Mr Ellesmere, I think that you will find that Majors Corner is part of the town centre and whilst it is not currently at the attractive end it's probably the end that needs most help. Unless of course someone has a vested interest in seeing the Buttermarket prosper? All available strings are being pulled and all paths eased to make sure this VUE cinema goes ahead. Since the Odeon is already there (with a leaky roof but then it's not the only thing in this town with the weather getting in is it?) why not make use of it? By converting a shopping centre into a multiplex isn't everyone just admitting that Ipswich town centre has no retail future?

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    Citizen

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Neither John Lewis or House of Fraser will come to a site in Ipswich town centre. Far more likely is Debenhams moving to an out of town site. The problem the Odeon site has is that it is in a grotty area with little parking and no other leisure outlets around it, unlike the Cardinal Park cinema. The Odeon site is just doomed to another failure.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

  • If Vue don't come it's no lose as their cinemas are actually move expensive than Cineworld typically and surely they could only install small screens into the buttermarket. Much better to see the old Odeon showing movies again and perhaps a smaller independent company could undercut Cineworld's prices.

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    Quiet whisper

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Unless someone moves into the Buttermarket and quickly, I can see it closing down this year. There are so few retaillers in there how any of them do business is a mystery. Laura Ashley are constantly in 'sale', the mens clothing shop already very nearly closed down once, Internacional are in administration and New Look at TK Maxx are the only real draw.

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    Sentinel Red

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Not quite true to say that Cineworld has the monopoly, we have the Film Theatre too, and I'm pleased about that. But they do tend (rightly) to show different films, although I just saw "Grand Budapest Hotel" there.

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • If the latest news makes the owners of VUE decide to actually build the cinema then that can only be a good thing. But VUE will probably never be built

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    Bungay

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • VUE are blatenlty not miving into the Buttermarket, they have put off two dates for installation in the past 18 months, someone has had second thoughts. To be honest the only logical thing to do with the Odeon is turn it back into a cinema, the chassis is still the same, so it wouldn't need much updating. Either that or whoever bought it bulldozes it, can't see that happening. The Car Park behind where the Caribbean club used to be is quite handy also for potential cinema goers, and we do need some competition as Cineworld has the monopoly, which means it costs more to go the Cinema than to have a 5 course Michelin starred meal.

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    Tedbundy

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Vue are NOT interested. The thought of a new university in the area got them interested. University towns and cities are liked for this very reason - students.. thousands of them. Students make up the big chunk of cinema-goers with discount card passes. ***** Regeneration of the town such as Travel Ipswich, Cornhill Project, Grafton Way and Westgate Centre excites them further, but with the exception of Travel Ipswich that is close to completion... the other projects are just planned or cancelled. ***** There is no denying that Cineworld has lost its shine and Cardinal Park isn't as great as it was.. the "new" novelty factor has gone. ***** IBC's and Ipswich Central's desire to brand the town shaped around the waterfront has killed off this investment into developing one of the largest town centre shopping centres... why would Vue invest in the town with a leisure complex, when their biggest (and locally well-established) competitor is just a few minute walk from the waterfront? Car parking is cheaper. Its closer to the railway station. ***** As a consumer I am thinking "just build the cinema already!"... but I fully understand their business decision not to commit themselves as in reality being located in the town centre isn't that significant any more. People used to shop then watch a film after or vice versa... now its more of a leisure time activity either with your other half or friends for social activity. ***** As for the Odeon, the rumour of a new cinema opening up isn't going to worry Vue, but its probably going to be their excuse as to when they fully decide to withdraw from such plans. This is why everything business needs to be done on a commercial competition basis and councils and BID organisations should not get involved in trying to make plans. All they need to do is keep the place looking pretty and desirable. Funny enough this is how all the coffee shops and betting shops came to Ipswich... it wasn't the council or BID encouraging them down here...

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Let me get this right. The Odeon closes in 2005 because the town could not support 2 cinemas. Now we are talking about the possibility of 3! Given that and even prior to today’s news, I don't think the council should even be allowing Vue to consider opening 9 screens in the Buttermarket. It puts jobs at risk at Cineworld & the restaurant trade in Cardinal Park that to a large extent depend on good audience figures. Now we have the crazy possibility of a third player? The whole thing is a mess. The only thing that would make sense to me is that if Vue want to open 9 screens then they do so at the former Odeon site and put some distance between them & Cineworld. You just know it’s going to end in tears for someone.

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    Chris D

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Yet more tittle-tattle drivel from the Reporter-in-Chief...absolutely no facts or substance...I really don't know how this trash gets past to publish...

    Report this comment

    Chris Ward

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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