Odeon cinemas was created in 1928 by Oscar Deutsch.
Odeon publicists have claimed that the name of the cinemas was derived from his motto, "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation",but it had been used for cinemas in France and Italy in the 1920s, and the word is ultimately derived from Ancient Greek. The name "Nickleodeon" was coined in 1905 and was widely used to describe small movie theatres in the United States during that era.
The first cinema opened by Oscar Deutsch was located in Brierly Hill England in 1928, the building has long since been demolished.
Blackpool's Odeon was the largest of the original Odeons ever to be built, with over 3,000 seats. With opening in 1939 it was also the last cinema to be built in the town before the outbreak of WW2.
This was the largest of the original Oscar Deutsch built Odeon Theatres, seating 1,684 in the stalls and 1,404 in the balcony. The Odeon opened on 6th May 1939 with “Three Smart Girls Grow Up” starring Deanna Durbin. The main facade and entrance is on Dickson Road but a second entrance for front stalls patrons was provided on Springfield Road. Provision was also made for an organ but this was not installed until 1946, when a Conacher 4Manual/12Ranks with grand piano was installed and opened by Al Bollington.
The Odeon was triplexed in 1975 with the two smaller screens 2 and 3 contained completely within the the under-balcony area of the rear stalls. This meant that from the balcony located screen 1 there was no visible change to the auditorium. Even the wonderful Art Deco style lights remained in full working order until the day of closure. The spacious cafe at first floor level was converted into an equally spacious bar.
Even towards the end of its cinema life it was possible to fill the 1,300 seat (former circle) screen 1 (“Titanic” had especially large queues forming and extra performances added).
The Odeon is a Grade II Listed building acquiring the status on 11 March 1994, and was included as a remarkably complete surviving Odeon cinema, with many original features now rare elsewhere.
The original Odeon building was closed in 1998. It was neglected and left in a rather poor state of disrepair.
It was boarded up for several years until it was acquired by In The Pink Leisure who converted the former stalls area at a cost of over £ 2 million to create the world famous Funny Girls Showbar, reparing and restoring many of the original art-deco features. Funny Girls was opened by the Queen of Hollywood Joan Collins in July 2002.
Organised tours of the building are currently organised by Blackpool Civic Trust at various dates throughout the year.