- Associated British Cinemas
Associated British Cinemas (ABC) was a cinema chain in the
United Kingdom. A wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Picture Corporation(ABPC), it operated between the 1930s and the late 1960s. The brand namewas resurrected briefly in the 1990s.
Associated British Cinemas was established in 1927 by solicitor
John Maxwellby merging three smaller Scottish cinema circuits. It became a wholly-owned cinema subsidiary of British International Pictureswhen it was merged with Maxwell’s British National Studiosproduction arm.
During the thirties it grew rapidly by acquisitions and an ambitious building programme under the direction of chief architect W.R.Glen who maintained a distinct house style. Existing cinemas which could not be re-modelled were usually operated as separate circuits. In 1937, the parent company, BIP was renamed Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC).
After his death in 1940, his widow Catherine sold a large number of shares to
Warner Brothers, who eventually became the largest shareholders and able to exercise control.By 1945 it operated over 400 cinemas (usually called the Savoy or Regal) and was second only to Rank's Odeon chain.
Television led to a sharp decline in cinema attendances during the 1960s although ten years previous the ABPC expanded into the new medium with the creation of "Associated British Cinemas (Television) Limited", which as ABC Weekend Television won the
Independent Televisioncontracts for the North of England and Midlands at the weekend (and would eventually become Thames Television).
As a result of the decline many suburban theatres closed. Most of those remaining lost their individual names and were simply ABCs. In 1967, Seven Arts, the new owners of Warner, decided to dispose of its holdings in ABPC and it was subsequently bought by
EMI, who then sold on the cinemas to the Golan & Globus "Cannon Cinemas" Group, having retained the ABPC's lucrative television interests. The chain was sold again in 1993 to MGMand became known as MGM Cinemas. Due to the challenge inflicted by the growth of multiplex cinemas, the chain's finances continued to suffer and it was sold yet again, this time to the venture capital group Cinvenwho reverted those cinemas remaining to the ABC name in 1998.
In 2000 Cinven bought over the one time rival chain of Odeon Cinemas for £280 million from
Rank Group plc[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/651207.stm] and all ABC Cinemas were rebranded as Odeon or were closed. In 2004 the Odeon chain was sold to Terra Firma Capital Partners.
Whilst the majority of the those former ABC cinema which remain open are now branded as Odeon one member of the chain had retained the ABC brand located in
Bournemouth, and on Glasgow's Sauchiehall Streetthe ABC Glasgowis now a music venue. However, all of the Butlinsholiday camps have an on-site ABC cinema.
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