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Sean Joins Fight To Save Cinema
BY ANGIE BROWN

SCREEN star Sir Sean Connery has joined the battle to save the Capital’s most famous cinema from closure.

The Edinburgh-born James Bond star warned the city risked losing star-studded film premieres and a building that was "full of character" and close to his heart if the Odeon in Clerk Street closed.

The cinema has been earmarked for closure within the next year despite winning a stay of execution earlier this month.

The world-famous actor, who brought the premiere of his film Entrapment to the Odeon, said it would be a sad day for the city if the cinema’s reprieve did not become permanent.

Sir Sean, who now lives in the Bahamas, said: "I was delighted to hear that the closure of the Odeon has been put on hold.

"It’s a fantastic film centre, full of character, with fond memories for me. The Odeon is exactly the kind of facility that Edinburgh should be building up - not shutting down.

"We brought the premiere of Entrapment to the Odeon because of what it has to offer - that would all be lost, and Edinburgh would be the poorer, if it closed."

Sir Sean attended the Entrapment premiere with Catherine Zeta Jones at the Odeon in 1999.

Among the other events Sir Sean has attended at the cinema over the years was the premiere of the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever in 1972.

He is the latest film star, following fellow Scots actors Dougray Scott, James Cosmo and Brian Cox, to offer his support to campaigners fighting to save the Odeon.

A storm of protest followed the initial announcement that the Southside cinema would close on April 24. It has since been given a reprieve of six to 12 months by cinema chiefs.

But campaigners fighting to reverse the decision today welcomed Sir Sean’s backing as a "big boost". Residents in the area, who fear the art deco building could be turned into a nightclub, believe the extra time given them by the reprieve may prove crucial. Maggie Wilson, former chairwoman of the Southside Association, said Sir Sean’s support had given the community more hope it would survive as a cinema.

"I am very pleased that Sir Sean is backing us. We do not want to see the Odeon go or be turned into a nightclub as it is the only cinema in the area. Sir Sean’s support will help elevate the campaign’s profile. I would also urge everyone to continue going to the Odeon to keep attendance figures up."

The cinema has been taken over by developer Duddingston House Properties, which is behind separate plans to open a live jazz club in the city with musician Jools Holland.

The Odeon chain said it plans to lease the Clerk Street premises from the new owners until a decision has been made over the long-term future of the site.

Odeon chiefs have blamed growing competition from out-of-town multiplexes for their decision to sell the cinema. Kevin Pringle, SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Edinburgh Central whose constituency would cover the Clerk Street cinema, said he was determined to keep the Odeon open.

"I’ve had a great response to our campaign - over a thousand leaflets have distributed locally, and Sean’s endorsement gives us a big boost.

"When Sean brought the Entrapment premiere to Edinburgh, he brought it to the Odeon - not to any of the new multiplexes - because the Odeon is different and distinctive. Unless we save the Odeon, Edinburgh will lose a real economic asset, as well as an important local amenity."

Edinburgh city council’s planning convener Bob Cairns, whose ward includes Clerk Street, said he was "delighted" to hear Sir Sean was supporting the campaign .

"I think such a big name will help the campaign. I’m informed the Odeon has the only screen in Edinburgh suited for premieres because it has two projectors.

"The unique twin projectors are there in case one breaks down during the film.

"I think it is very appropriate Sir Sean has intervened considering he has attended premieres at the cinema."

(EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS 10/04/2003)