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Cinema Profile
Harbour Lights Cinema, Southampton, England

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: Ben Wales Issue 41 - October 1995
In the town of Southampton once famous for its port for departing Transatlantic Liners has seen a decline of its cinemas the last of which was the closure of the Odeon in the city centre three years ago.

The town was left with the five screens MGM Multiplexes in Ocean Village and the part time art house cinema The Gantry. Since the Odeon had closed there was not a cinema equipped to show 70mm. The local City Counsil realising the fact that Southhampton was now under screened and there was a need for a full time Regional Film Theatre, a site was chosen on the formet P&O Ferries passenger ferry terminal at Ocean Village over looking the marina and is only a stones throw from the MGM Cinema. Building work began in early 1994 and the cinema was formally opened by Eddie Reed, mayor of Southhampton on Thursday 24th February 1995 with the gala film "Muriels Wedding".

The cinema cost to build in region of 1,5 milion punds and was founded by Southhampton City Council, The British Film Institute, Hampshire County Counsil and other funding bodies.

The cinema is managed under the Southhampton Film Company, chief executive appointed was Mr Rod Varley who was previous Head of Film at National Museum of Film & Television at Bradford and was a driving force behind the recreating of Cinerama.

The cinema is equipped with Cinemeccanica projectors and platters. In screen #1 a Victoria 35/70mm projector has been installed. The projector has capable speeds of 18, 24, 25 and 30 frames per second by means of a switch. The projector is mounted on a console that houses the xenon lamp house and rectifier.

The sound system comprises of a Dolby CP65 with 6 QSC 1400 amplifiers. With the 70mm 6 track sound, the inner left and right is played back in the outer two channels as the cinema can not play back 6 track conventional 70mm, however, there is a provision for sub base extension and stereo left & right rear sound in readiness for Dolby Digital Sound [SRD, ed] that will be installed in the future.

In the auditorium screen #1 has a seating capacity of 340 and screen #2 seats just over 140. Both screens have electronic masking with top and side for masking all picture ratios. However, in both auditoriums there is no screen curtains and the auditoriums have been painted matt black. The seating is steeply raked at the back. The entrance is on the first floor. The whole of the front of the building is built of glass which the architects claim the cinema looks like a sail of an ocean liner. The building will be the central piece attraction in Ocean Village.

The first 70mm film shown at the Harbour Lights was "Little Buddha" on Saturday 4th March 1995. Other 70mm titles been already shown were "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines...", "Edward Scissorhands", "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", "Doctor Zhivago", "My Fair Lady" and "Star Trek" no. #2 and #3. Programming is booked with the BFI. A monthly programme is sold or mailed out each month giving full details of films and their showing times.

Cinema specifications:

Screen #1: Capacity: 340 seats. Screen size for 70mm: 9,4 m x 4,3 m (31 ft 2" x 14 ft 19". Projector: Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35/70mm. Lamphouse: Cinemeccanica CC4000H console. Platter:CNR-70/35. Sound: Dolby CP65 with Dolby A and Dolby SR. 70mm Dolby and non Dolby sound. Amplifiers: QSC 1400 amplifiers bi-amplificated. Speakers: Kelonic. Installation: Sound Associates.

Screen #2: Capacity: 140 seats. Screen sizew 5,9 m x 3,7 m (19 ft 47" x 12 ft 21") Projector: Cinemeccanica Victoria 5. Platter: CNR 3/35. Sound: Dolby CP65 with Dolby A and Dolby SR. Amplifiers: 4 QSC 1400 amplifiers. Speakers: Kelonic. Installation: Sound Associates.

Further in 70mm reading:

MGM Bournemouth
Millenium Dome London

Internet link:

Harbour Lights Cinema, Ocean Way
Southampton, Hampshire SO14 3TL

Box office phone:
+44 1703 335 533.
Office phone:
+44 1703 635 335


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Updated 21-01-24