Bournemouth ABC Cinema closes with Back to the Future as final screening

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THE film may have been a comedy adventure but plenty of viewers had tears in their eyes when it was over.

Bournemouth said goodbye tonight to its grand ABC cinema – the last remaining high street ABC in the country.

The curtains of the giant ABC1 screen closed for the final time after a screening of the 1985 time-travel hit Back to the Future, chosen by Daily Echo readers from a shortlist provided by the cinema’s operator, Odeon.

Odeon is closing both Bournemouth’s Westover Road cinemas to move into the new BH2 leisure development off the Square.

The shortlist also included Lawrence of Arabia, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and the Wizard of Oz.

The ABC was the first to go, with the Westover Road Odeon due to shut next month as the new multiplex opens on the other side of Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens in the BH2 development.

Bournemouth’s ABC did not quite make it to its 80th birthday.

The cinema opened on June 19, 1937, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to the songs of George and Ira Gershwin in Shall We Dance.

It hosted the world premiere of Happy Go Lovely in 1951 and the UK premiere of Showboat in 1951. It took the ABC name in 1958.

In 1970, new owners EMI turned the venue into a twin-screen cinema, with the ABC1 screen equipped for the new high-definition 70mm projection system.

A third screen was added in 1973.

Ahead of last night’s screening, the ABC’s final general manager, Spencer Clark, was saluted for his work.

Back to the Future which starred Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd was shown all on three screens in the complex and was fully sold out for the evening.

The new Odeon is due to be operating in time to show Lego Batman and Fifty Shades Darker.

Mr Clark said: “It has been rather mixed emotions.

“We’re sad but happy that we’re moving forward into the cinema at the BH2 site.

“The cinema has been here for 80 years so we’re thinking of the happy memories we’ve had in here.”

Richard Rowe, who will manage the new Odeon: “ It’s hugely sad but there’s so much to look forward to.”

Mr Rowe said the new cinema was “lovely” and the best Odeon he’d seen.

Caroline Lane bringing daughter Olivia, 13, for first time said: “They certainly don’t make cinemas like this any more.”

Jemma Dawson of Bournemouth came to see Back to the Future on the ABC’s last night after her dad brought her to see the two sequels back in 1988.

She told the Echo: “It’s such a great old style cinema. They’re getting quite rare now.”