Inside the abandoned Portsmouth Odeon cinema which has been empty for more than a decade

A TEAM of urban explorers have found the perfect set for a post-apocalyptic film – an abandoned cinema.

Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 4:43 pm

Simon Waitland, 32, from Gosport, posted a video on YouTube showing the screens and projector rooms inside the derelict Odeon in London Road, North End, which closed in 2008.

The team of four explorers uncovered old film reel in the projector rooms - including some from I Am Legend, the 2007 movie starring Will Smith, set in a world almost devoid of people.

Simon, who works restoring cars, said: 'It was an ironic find – given what the film is about.

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Simon Waitland explored the former Odeon cinema in North End.

'The cinema in its current state would be perfect for a showing of Mad Max.

'It was quite bizarre – a weird mix of stuff left and taken.'

Simon said initial reaction to his photos on Facebook showed how many people consider the cinema a special place from their childhood.

He said: ‘I posted photos on my local history page and loads of people got in contact to share their memories about the cinema – so many people visited it as a kid.

‘I remember seeing Star Wars: Episode One there.

‘It's such a shame to see it crumbling away. It's a beautiful building – inside, you can see little bits of the original architecture from the 1930s in the rafters and on the ceiling.’

The urban explorers said they were able to enter the site through a loose panel.

The Art-Deco style cinema opened in 1936 and closed in 2008.

After spending more than an hour looking around the derelict site, Simon wishes it could be saved.

He said: 'It would take a lot of money to restore - but it could be reused.'

The site currently has a Sainsbury's story in the renovated foyer.

In 2017 a planning application to turn the building into flats was approved, with a revised application for 33 homes at the site being submitted in November 2018. That is still under consideration.

A spokesman for HRP Architects, the firm that drew up the plans for the owners of the site, said: ‘We imagine there is support in the community for the building to be developed.

‘The frontage would be retained, but the back would need a lot of development.

‘There is no plan for the history of the site as a cinema to be retained - it's going to be quite a bespoke development.’

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