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MGM Bournemouth, Bournemouth, England

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

Written by: Ben Wales Issue 37 - February 1995
Down on the sunny south coast of England is the seaside town of Bournemouth in the county of Dorset. Bournemouth is famous for its over 7 miles of golden sand beaches as well as a popular holiday resort.

Today there are only two surviving cinemas in the town. They are both situated on Westover Road. The former Gaumont, now a 6 screen Odeon, although it was equipped for 70mm in what is now screen #1 much of the projection equipment was removed some years ago. But what is some interest is that the original 70mm Cinerama proscenium is still visible although the actual screen size today is a smaller screen which has been built into the original proscenium.

Further down the same road is the MGM Cinema. Originally built as the Westover for the UK chain cinema owners ABC (Associated British Cinemas) opened on the 19th June 1937 with Astaire and Rodgers musical "Shall We Dance". It seated just over 2500. In 1958 the cinema was renamed simply ABC Bournemouth.

In 1968 saw further refurbishment when 70mm Todd-AO was installed using two Philips DP75 projectors. The first film to be presented in 70mm was the film "Far From The Madding Crowd" in 1968. Other films were "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Doctor Zhivago" and "Airport 75".

Further in 70mm reading:

Harbour Lights Cinema
DTS 70mm at the Dome

Internet link:

MGM Cinema
Att: Manager Mr Rodger Marley
27 Westover Road

+44 01202 290 345.


The cinema closed in 1969 for twinning. ABC 1 & 2 opened on 13th June 1970 with 644 & 982 seats. In January 1973 screen #2 was twinned as ABC 2 & 3 with a seating of 587 & 223. Now a three screen cinema. Screen #1 still retains the 70mm projection equipment although one of the Philips DP75 was removed to make way for a Philips cake stand/platter long play system in 1976. In 1983 a Dolby CP200 processor was installed as well as other improvements to screen one sound system. Films like "ET", "Raiders of the lost ark", "Indiana Jones and the temple of doom", and "Indiana Jones and the last crusade" as well as "Star Trek II", and "Cry Freedom" were all shown in 70mm. In 1992 the cinema was renamed MGM when all the former ABC cinemas was sold by the Cannon group to MGM. Two years ago new JBL speakers was installed in screen #1. Dolby Stereo was updated in screens #2 and #3. Future improvements will include Dolby Digital sound in screen #1 in the summer. The first demonstration of digital sound was the Bournemouth premiere of "The Fugitive" when it ran for weeks in digital sound.

The 70mm Film Season 1994

For May and June shown on every Wednesday was the MGM Cinema Film Season. The programme was put together by the cinema manager Mr Rodger Marley and Darren Payne, cinema projectionist. There was good public responce to see the films on the big screen. The films were: "Doctor Zhivago" 4th May, "Far and Away" 11th May, "The Last Emperor" 18th May, "Empire of the Sun" 25th May, "The longest Day" 6th June and "The Hunt For red October" 15th June.

The most popular film film was "The Longest Day" on June 6th D-day when Bournemouth civic dignitarys were invited to attend the screening. To help promote the 70mm season a display of related 70mm memorabila which included a Century 35/70mm projector was put on display in the foyer. Information leaflets on 70mm films generally and all known titles made on 65mm. Information leaflets on The International 70mm Association were also put on display.

MGM Bournemouth specifications

Seats: Screen #1 652 seats. 70mm Projector: Philips DP75. Lamphouse: Peerless Magnarc Xenon 2kW lamp house. Sound processor: Dolby Stereo CP200 and 200 w per channel amps. Speakers: JBL. 70mm screen size: 48 ft x 27 ft (15 m x 8,24 m).

Written by Mr Ben Wales. Mr Wales first began to show interest in cinema in the early 1980's. Started to collect old home cine cameras and projectors. Now has a collection of 30 including one portable 35mm and a Century 35/70mm projector. For the past two years has been a part time projectionist at The Gantry Arts Cinema in Southampton. Ambition to work full time with 70mm & 35mm.
In future editions of The 70mm Newsletter Mr Ben Wales will delight readers with new stories about British 70mm cinemas. Look forward to it.

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Updated 07-01-23