Something needs to be done about the Putney Odeon

Tuesday May 29th 2012


Once upon a time, the small London suburb of Putney had four cinemas running concurrently. Only one remains, the others having been slowly washed away by the growing dominance of the major chains and the lure of home entertainment. Normally I’d mourn the loss of these singular, historic venues, but in this instance all I can think about is how much I wish ‘the decline of cinema’ had gone the whole hog and left Putney theatreless.

I made my first trip in over two years to the Putney Odeon last night, and despite a renovation that’s basically converted it into a Costa Coffee with a small Odeon concession, it’s still holding tight onto its reputation as The Worst Cinema in London.

The staff are not the problem. They are uniformly polite and efficient, and charitable souls to boot. The problem seems to be that Odeon give so few fucks about this small and relatively inconsequential suburban cinema that they’re happy to let it rot into a state of (admittedly very clean) disrepair. “This isn’t the West End,” they reason, “no one will care if the picture is warped out of all recognition, the sound echoes endless around the auditorium and the projection bulb has been replaced by a Maglite. No one will notice the streaks of light pouring in through the exit doors or that weird brown stain on the corner of the screen. They should think themselves lucky they even have a cinema.”

I shudder to think what their locations outside of major cities must be like.

Broadly speaking, I am against film piracy. After all, this blog survives thanks to revenue streams intrinsically linked to the film industry. And yet, I cannot in good conscience object to the illegal distribution of Hollywood movies while the Putney Odeon continues to operate in its current state. In fact, I can see no other course of action but to publicly endorse such a practice. I’m afraid it’s the only way they’ll learn.

I await an official response.