ABC Cinemas

ABC Cinemas

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ABC Cinemas

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ABC Cinemas (Associated British Cinemas) was a cinema chain in the United Kingdom. A wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), it operated between the 1930s and the late 1960s. The brand name was reused in the 1990s until 2000.


Early years

ABC Cinemas was established in 1927 by solicitor John Maxwell by merging three smaller Scottish cinema circuits. It became a wholly owned cinema subsidiary of British International Pictures when it was merged with the production arm of British National Studios, which had been formed by Maxwell in 1926.

During the thirties it grew rapidly by acquisitions and an ambitious building programme under the direction of chief architect W.R.Glen, who had been appointed in about 1929 and maintained a distinct house style. Existing cinemas which could not be re-modelled were usually operated as separate circuits. In 1937, the parent company, BIP was renamed Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC).

After his death in 1940, his widow Catherine sold a large number of shares to Warner Brothers, who eventually became the largest shareholders and able to exercise control, though ABPC was separately quoted on the London Stock Exchange.By 1945 it operated over 400 cinemas (usually called the Savoy or Regal) and was second only to Rank's Odeon chain. By the...
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